Game Birds (and More) from Quattro’s in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County
Pheasant, ducks and guinea hens, oh my!
Woodcocks: too pretty to eat
Walking my dogs in the woods this week, I’ve seen an unfamiliar bird hopping about in the dead leaves, a round little thing with no neck, short legs, a russet breast and a really long bill. It turns out to be an American woodcock, a game bird that Wikipedia informs me is also called a timberdoodle or bogsucker. I’m going with timberdoodle.
I love birds, so it’s ironic (or do I mean hypocritical?) that I also love to eat game birds. They’re expensive, though, so the indulgence is a rare treat — and, in case you’re wondering, there’s zero chance that I’d try to catch and cook a beautiful little wild timberdoodle, tasty though he may be. But we have an anniversary coming up, so I’ve decided to splurge on pheasant, and I’m off to Quattro’s in Pleasant Valley to get one (or two).
Roast duck is even tastier if it's raised like a wild one
Quattro’s is an old-fashioned, family-run farm and store that’s been in business since 1942. (They have no Web site, but you can find them on Facebook.) Carmela Quattrociocchi and her mother ran the farm in the early days, and Frank, Carmela’s husband, ran the store. Nowadays, Carmela’s daughter-in-law, Joyce (who has the more pronounceable name Quattro), runs the store, and Joyce’s husband helps take care of the critters. They raise free-range geese, Pekin ducks, wild and heritage turkeys, pheasant and guinea hens, as well as chickens. All the game birds live outdoors once they’ve grown their feathers, just as they would in the wild, eating the best mixed-grain feed. Because they’re hatched and hand-raised in small batches, the cost is a tad high ($6.99 per pound for pheasant, for example) but well worth it.
The store carries a range of other tasty goodies, from the family’s own venison to fresh mozzarella. And all kinds of free-range eggs, of course — the pheasants have just started laying. “A duck egg is a baker’s dream, and turkey egg whites are so tasty,” Joyce Quattro notes. The game sausages they make around Christmas time are a real treat — make a note for next year. Meanwhile, you can choose from fresh Italian sausages, curried lamb, bratwurst, chicken-apple-pistachio, smoked pheasant or smoked wild turkey.
Go and browse. It’s impossible not to be tempted. 107 Tinkertown Road in Pleasant Valley. 845-635-2018. You’ll also find their products at the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market, year round.