Chicken-Fried Quail with Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
- 8 semi-boneless quail
For the marinade:
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons minced 1015 or Vidalia onion
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the cilantro dipping sauce:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup safflower oil
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Peanut oil, for frying
Quarter the quail: Using game shears, cut along either side of the backbone from the rear cavity to the neck opening. Remove the backbone. Press the quail flat, breast down, then use a sharp heavy knife to halve down through the breastbone. Cut between the thigh/leg section and the breast piece on each half. Rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.
Make the marinade: Combine all of the ingredients in a nonmetallic bowl, then toss with the quail quarters to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Make the cilantro dipping sauce: Place the egg, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in a blender, cover, and blend on high speed until smooth. Remove the lid insert and slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor running. Presto! You’ve just made mayonnaise. Scrape the contents into a small bowl, add the green onion, cilantro, and cheese; cover and refrigerate until serving time or up to 2 days. Yields about 1 cup.
Fry the quail: Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and toss to blend. Remove the quail pieces one at a time from the marinade, toss gently in the flour mixture to coat evenly, and place on a wire rack.
Pour the peanut oil to a depth of 4 inches in a deep-fat fryer or Dutch oven, and bring to 350° F over medium-high heat; maintain close to this temperature throughout the batch-frying process. Fry the quail a few pieces at a time until golden brown, turning just once. Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the quail from the hot oil and transfer to a clean wire rack placed on a baking sheet.
Serve hot with the dipping sauce.