I’ll be the first to admit quail is not my favorite bird to eat. My husband is an avid hunter who brings home lots of game. My favorite is duck, my least favorite is quail. In a restaurant I love to eat quail. They are able to buy the birds already semi boneless which makes them not only easier to cook, but easier to eat. At home the de-boning process of such a small bird is daunting. I’ve tried stuffing them, butterflying them and marinating them. I just have never found a way to enjoy them, until a guide my husband had gone quail hunting with mentioned frying them. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. I made it after letting the birds marinate in a spice rub, and treating them very much like I do my fried chicken and I couldn’t believe the end result. Not only did I eat the quail, but I actually really liked it. It wasn’t overcooked or dry, and it had tons of flavor because of the spice mixture I marinated the raw meat in.
Now while this works well with whole butterflied wild quail, it also works great with store bought or farm raised quail as well. You just butterfly the quail much like you do with a chicken by cutting out the back bone and putting a sharp knife in the breast bone to crack it. I like to let the quail sit with the spice mixture overnight. This really lets those flavors meld into the meat. The birds get soaked in buttermilk before tossing them in a cornmeal and flour mixture. I fry them up in peanut oil, then allow them to cool on a wire rack set in the oven to keep them warm while I work on the next batch. If you, like me, struggle with eating wild quail at home, give this method a try, I bet you will be surprised. We eat it casually with our hands and with cold dark amber beers to go around.
- 10 whole quail, cleaned & butterflied
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 gallon buttermilk
- 2 C cornmeal
- 2 C all purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- peanut oil
- Mix together the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cajun seasoning, oregano and thyme.
- In a large bowl add the quail and sprinkle the quail with the spice mixture. Make sure everything is well coated in seasoning. Place plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and put it in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to 48.
- Two hours before you are ready to fry the birds, pull the bowl out of the fridge and place it on the counter. Put in the 1/2 gallon of buttermilk and stir the birds and buttermilk around together. Let this sit on the counter for two hours.
- Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven with a wire rack set inside of it. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Mix the cornmeal, flour and salt in a resealable plastic bag or a large brown paper bag.
- In a large cast iron skillet, fill it up halfway with peanut oil and turn the heat to medium. Allow the oil to heat up and reach 350 degrees.
- Once the oil is warm, pull three quail out of the buttermilk and allow them to drain just slightly. Then toss them into the bag with the cornmeal and flour. Toss the birds around in the flour mixture until they are well coated. Shaking the birds slightly to remove the excess flour mixture put them into the hot oil to cook. I start breast side down and allow them to cook for 3 minutes. Then turn and cook them an additional 2 minutes. Pull the birds out of the oil and place them on the wire rack set in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining quail.
- Serve warm.