Thaw quail in the refrigerator overnight. Never thaw at room temperature. Quail may also be thawed by immersing in cold water; leave the bird in its original wrappings or place it in a watertight bag. Change water every 30 minutes. Quail should thaw in an hour or less.
For quick-thawing raw or cooked quail, use the microwave at its Defrost or Medium-Low setting, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Turn quail as it thaws. Because quail are small, take care they do not begin to cook.
Wash quail thoroughly in cold water before cooking; pat dry with paper towel.
Quail is done when its flesh gives to pressure and the internal temperature reaches 145°F (62°C).
Mix together 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sprinkle over outside of whole quail and inside body cavity. Place quail in a shallow pan, breast side up. To preserve moistness, cover bird with bacon or salt pork, if desired. Roast in 350°F (180°C) oven for 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180°F (82.2°C), basting occasionally. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.
Split birds in two down the back and flatten slightly with a mallet. Dredge in flour and herbs and spices. Sauté in oil 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook.
Preheat broiler. Line broiler pan with foil for easy cleanup. Spray rack of broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray, if desired. Place quail halves on a rack set in the broiler pan. Position oven rack so quail halves on broiler rack are 6 inches (15cm) from the heat source. Broil on each side until quail gives under pressure or has an internal temperature of 145°F (62°C).
Place quail halves on a prepared grill with a rack about 8 inches (about 20 cm) from the heat source. Grill, turning frequently (using tongs to prevent piercing skin), about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Homemade or bottled barbecue sauce (or other glazes) may be brushed on quail during last 10 to 20 minutes of grilling time.
To test the temperature, place your palms above the coals or heat source at cooking level. If you have to remove your hands after 2 seconds, the temperature is hot; after 3 seconds, medium hot; and after 4 seconds, medium. More than 4 seconds indicates the grill has not reached cooking temperature.