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Recipe: Chicken-Fried Quail with Cilantro Dipping Sauce

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Photo by Robert Peacock.
Photo by Robert Peacock.
Chicken-Fried Quail with Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 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

For frying:

  • 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, for frying

Instructions:
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.

>>Next recipe: crab-stuffed flounder

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