Recipe: Southern Fried Quail
There are few things in this world that are more satisfying than gathering your own food. Be it grown and picked from your garden, or harvested by other means (as in those involving ammunition of sorts), there’s something special about knowing where your food came from, and being the one to obtain it by hand.
Having the benefit of a large farm in Southeastern North Carolina, I am fortunately able to do both, very often. However, if you live in the city, a community garden, or co-op of sorts may be available for fresh veggies, or a pop-up farmers market at the very least (Dupont/Eastern Market in DC). If it’s cute and fuzzy critters you are after, make friends with a hunter, or at least a good butcher. I have two favorites in DC, Wagshal’s and Stachowski’s.
Forgoing the butcher and the market, I recently went quail hunting on my farm and was lucky enough to obtain enough to feed a few people. My favorite quail preparation is to pan-fry them much like chicken. Some wrap them in bacon and grill them, but trust me, they still tend to dry out. This southerner, shooting birds in the south, knows the only proper way to prepare these flying creatures of tasty goodness is to fry them (and then make gravy with the drippings obviously.)
Step One: Obtain your cute and fuzzy friends. Quail, dove, rabbit, deer tenderloin…almost all game meats will lend themselves to this type of preparation. Or chicken if you’re feeling too fancy.
Step Two: Rinse and season over night. I use my rib rub actually. But any combination of garlic and onion powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, mustard powder, salt, cayenne powder, and whatever else you feel like adding will do the trick.
Step Three: Coat with all purpose flour.
Step Four: Heat vegetable or peanut oil in skillet over medium-high heat until ready. All true Southerns know how to test if it’s ready. Dip your finger in water, flick it in the oil, if it pops, it’s ready.
Step Five: Shake excess flour, gently place in oil. Wait until golden brown (about 5-7 mins per side), then flip. Remove when golden brown, place on paper towel or cooling tray, salt while warm.
Step Six: Saute some greens, preferably freshly picked as well to complete the meal. Spinach with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and grated Parmesan go great with the fried quail.
Now sit back, and enjoy your freshly gathered/harvested, or freshly procured meal.