Don’t say “farm to table” unless you really mean it! For those who practice the age-old survival methods of foraging and hunting (now vastly more fun as a hobby than as a matter of life and death), there is food writer Susan L. Ebert’s new cookbook. If you’re looking to discover your inner outdoorsy side, pick a recipe and a gun, rod or sturdy pair of gardening gloves, and get ready to cook from scratch.
You just can’t go wrong with Texas-style chicken-fried quail, especially if hungry men are around.
- 8 semi-boneless quail
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Vidalia onion or other sweet onion, minced
- 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
Cilantro dipping sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup safflower oil
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- peanut oil, for frying
For 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.
For 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.
For 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.
For the frying
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° Fahrenheit 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.