I got a bunch of really nice gifts for my birthday, many of which had to do with cooking.

Two are featured here: a lovely stuffed quail and a beautiful Le Creuset skillet.

The quail is incredibly fitting, as you are about to learn. The friend who gave me the tiny bird to roast knew some of my family history, and that my daughter's middle name is Quaglia (a shortened version of Quagliariello). She also gave me a gift certificate for a lovely speciality butcher shop here in SF, Olivier's, which I cannot wait to cash in.

I asked Joe (my Dad) to recount the story one more time of the history of his family's name. Here is his story, which I felt I couldn't do a better job of paraphrasing so included the whole epic story.

Well, it all started during the Holy Roman Empire. My ancestors were poor peasants who tilled the land not two miles from Caesar's Palace. (Not that one.)

A couple of thousand years later, my paternal grandfather decided to tear himself away from the rocky, dry land he was tilling, and he arrived in Brooklyn around 1900. He got a job working in a shoe factory, which turned out to be demanding and ill-paying, but still better than the land-tilling ever would, so he decided to stay.

His name was Thomas Quagliariello, the last name being Italian for "little quail." Starting with the day he spent at Ellis Island, he was aware that his last name didn't sound American. So he decided to follow the course taken by his cousin, a locally well-known boxer.

This cousin had a cigar-smoking manager who ruled that, for poster purposes, the boxer need a name shorter than Quagliariello. The manager smoked only light cigars, which were identified on the side of their box by the Spanish word "claro," which, in different contexts can mean, "mild" (for cigars), "clear" (for weather), or "I understand" (as in "It's clear").

So Pasquale Quagliariello became boxer Patsy Claro, and my grandfather, believing this was an American name (even though it sounded Italian), followed suit. Years later, my father and two of his half-brothers did the same, while the other brothers either retained their original name or shortened it to Quaglia. 

And that's the story.

So as you can see, my friend hit the nail on the head with her gift, which was delicious as well.

Stuffed Roasted Quail

each bird serves 1 person

  • Order pre-stuffed birds from your local butcher, if you can get them.

You can stuff your own bird, but I believe it would be very hard, based on the tiny nature of these birds and the tiny bones you'd have to remove. If you are going to stuff it yourself get some nice sausage, roasted chestnuts and some raisins or sultanas. I can't really advise you how to stuff the actual bird, but check

this link

out, it may be helpful.


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Put a small amount of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Make sure the pan is big enough to allow space between multiple birds.
  • Lightly salt the bird and put it in the pan.
  • Roast the bird(s) for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and serve up the bird(s).