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Dec 20, 2013 11:03 AM

Deep frying quail?

Just an idea. I'm serving a few dozen for Christmas as an app. I was wondering if they'd deep fry quickly/easily b/c they are so small.
I'd fill the little cavity with fresh thyme and rosemary/S&P and a bit of lemon and tie up the cavity and deep fry them in coconut oil. This ought to only take a couple of minutes. Any thoughts?

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  1. I've been asked not to just provide a Google link so here's just one:

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    1. Deep-fried quail are a classic in the south (maybe elsewhere) and are a no-brainer if you're comfortable with deep frying and have sufficient capacity. Don't bother with the herbs in the cavity -- they'll just add to the splattering. If you want herb overtones, make a wet rub of herbs, S&P and olive oil (shallot is good too) and let them sit with that for awhile.

      You can flour them before frying or not, depending on your preference and what you're trying to accomplish.

      Don't know about the coconut oil -- seems a bit unusual. Personally prefer peanut for deep frying.

      NB: Southerners often bread & fry quail like chicken, which can sort of overpower the birds with crunch.

      Post some photos of the finished product.

      22 Replies
      1. re: rjbh20

        Does anyone know if there's significant loss of texture or flavor if the quails are frozen (vs. fresh)? I have a half dozen quail from my local Vietnamese grocery store. I have no idea where I would encounter fresh (never frozen) quail in my small city, so let's assume that's not an option. Should I go ahead and try deep frying them or opt for another cooking method?

        1. re: 1sweetpea

          For fresh you really have to shoot them yourself, and that is very much a rich man's sport.
          Smothered quail was a Sunday staple for a large part of my Texas experience. (I was not the rich guy.)

          1. re: Veggo

            As a teen I was lucky enough that my uncle had a few coveys on his farm and later a friend had a few at his place, both of these in Texas. We chicken fried them seasoned with shot gun pellets. Speaking of frying, off to fry a mess of Galveston Bay oysters. Now the rich folks go to South Texas to blast away if the fire ants haven't eaten too many of the young.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              I haven't been in a while, but the quail hunting in Webb County is still good in spite of the coyotes and rattlers. And, yes, those #6 shot are a bitch on your molars!

              1. re: Veggo

                6's or 71/2's for me, coupled with my double 20 gauge or Dad's Remington Model 11 16 gauge from the 40's. 12 gauge, I don't need no stinkin' 12 gauge. I still have both firearms, loaded with buckshot for the hopefully never seen intruder. I still haven't started frying oysters, but the wifeacita is now home and hungry. The great thing about fried oysters is by the time the oil heats up, they're breaded in cornmeal and ready to go, a 10-15 minute process, skillet to stomach.

                1. re: James Cristinian

                  Buen provecho, James!
                  I agree 12 gauges with full choke are for ducks and geese, steel shot.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    Hee. Hee. If it were my house, most would make it from shell to stomach in about 10 seconds apiece :) That frying process does make one's mouth water longer, though!

                    1. re: travelerjjm

                      Believe me, raw ones are also wolfed down, wolfed I say.

                2. re: James Cristinian

                  My father hunted quail and dove in South Georgia all his life. Great eating. And he definitely wasn't rich.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    Quail hunting in Georgia often includes rotations of pointer bird dogs, and horses, on large properties with southern yellow pine and miles of fences. Hardly a poor man's sport.

                  2. re: Veggo

                    Veggo - my Dad was an avid hunter. And yes, he hunted quail (and dove) during that season. We weren't rich. He was a chemist and went on to managerial jobs within the company, but we were not "rich". He bought his guns with his check he received monthly from the government for losing a finger in WWII while in the Navy. He and our neighbor had farmer friends that let them hunt on their land.

                    1. re: Jeanne

                      Gotcha. I'm glad the sport is not all $4000 pointer dogs and $52000 Purdey shotguns.
                      I was never a very good shot, myself. Quail are challenging. My apologies for inferring that it's a rich mans sport, I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers.

                      1. re: Jeanne

                        Same with my father. And back then you could just take your dogs and go out in the fields if you knew where to go. And as was frequently the case, at least in the South back then, it was a matter of who you knew. My uncle did keep horses and he and his dogs did field trials. But, again, FAR from rich.

                  3. re: rjbh20

                    I'm going to use sunflower oil. I've decided to make 'General Tso's' chicken recipe using whole quail.
                    That ought to shake up some traditional Christmas turkey fans. (There are two turkeys and a 'honey ham' arriving). Can't wait till the 'sensitive' guests see the quail/s.
                    "But they are just babies!". "That's right they are 'day old' turkey chicks. Enjoy! LOL.

                    1. re: Puffin3

                      Quail are delicious, but for first timers they are so small and boney it's like picking a blue crab for the first time.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        To anyone who's been friends with a dove hunter, quail look pretty big for a game bird!

                        Fried quail are a popular restaurant specialty in some parts of the non-deep South. When we'd run from Nashville to visit my mom in southern Missouri, the last town in Kentucky just before we crossed to the tip of Illinois had a big rambling riverside restaurant that advertised OUAIL DINNERS $9! Unfortunately that was weekend nights only, so the timing was all wrong.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I could not have driven beyond that sign! Screech of tires!

                          1. re: Veggo

                            I did stop once – it was a pretty good burger place by day, plus pork chops and stuff, but the quail was Saturday and Sunday nights only. Or maybe Friday-Saturday – been about twenty years! Pretty sure they just got several cases of frozen quail each week and defrosted them in the walk-in until the weekend, then got out the kettle they'd use for fish fries.

                            Last time I was through there during a massive thunder/lightning/downpour with a tornado or two, the rivers were all at flood stage, and though it was too hard to see I think the restaurant, down below the bridge on a low bluff over the river, was probably a goner. Too bad: it was a weekend night!

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              Damn the tornados, there's quail full speed ahead!

                          2. re: Will Owen

                            Shoot, pun, I've shot many more dove than quail, strictly on the availability. White wings have migrated up from Mexico, and there are plenty in SE Texas, including inside the city limits of Houston. After the initial shock of flushing quail, the noise, they tend to fly in a straight line and are easy to hit. A dove flying 30 mph in a crosswind is something else. Now, I'm a pretty fair shot, Daddy taught me well, number two in gunnery class 99/100 for top turret B24 in WWII. We did dove breasts wrapped in bacon and baked with red wine.

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              I used to shoot so many doves on the central flyway migration through Texas that the only reason I paused was to let the barrel of my shotgun cool down. Grilled, marinated dove breasts are indeed good eating. It was interesting that hummingbirds flew the same path, but much lower and much faster. Fun to watch. And no, I never harmed a hummingbird.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                We were fishing in Rockport during the hummingbird migration, the motel had feeders, so we caught some, plucked 'em, took off the wings and beaks and fried them up. Delicious. Ok maybe not, but we did catch the heck out trout and redfish, those are great fried.

                    2. I think a light batter is better. Grilling is also very fast and less messy.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: JB BANNISTER

                        Does one method or the other make them any more tender?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I like fresh birds lightly floured and fried, unfortunately as Veggo says, quail hunting is a luxury.

                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            Perhaps now it is. Back in the 50s and 60s Daddy hunted constantly. Yes, he had a couple of dogs, no horse and not in a million years were we even CLOSE to rich. One of my favorite pix from childhood is me, at about three, standing in his boots, his jacket and his shotgun propped against my shoulder.

                            So pan fried? I like that idea.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Dove hunting is still reasonable around here, the quail habitat is gone. My brother won a sales contest a couple of years ago and the prize was a nice 28 gauge shotgun and a canned quail hunt in Georgia, which part I'm not sure. The birds were pen raised and released on the property, easy pickings, but like as we mentioned early, they never were very hard to hit.

                      2. I think grilling requires a lot less time and mess. Also Quail can almost always be found at Asian Markets and frozen in most grocery stores frozen

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: JB BANNISTER

                          At my latin market, Acapulco Tropical in Bradenton, FL, a package of 4 frozen quail is about $9.
                          Edit: Smoked quail are delicious.

                          1. re: JB BANNISTER

                            If grilled, aren't they just tough as shoe leather? I did see a recipe though for bacon-wrapped and then VERY slowly grilled. It's the rare dish where "time and mess" figure in for me :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Then fry them. I just grill and baste. Just don't over cook them either way as they dry out fast

                              1. re: JB BANNISTER

                                Just asking. Aren't they dry? And how does one make sure that they're not overcooked? I doubt a meat thermometer works, does it?

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  They are not dangerous really. I just cook them through.

                                  1. re: JB BANNISTER

                                    Not sure what "dangerous" means. I'm not concerned about food safety. It just seems like "cook them through" is vague enough that they could easily be overcooked.

                          2. I have always thought fried quail were more tasty and interesting. It's fun to gnaw on a quail, they're so little and difficult to eat with a knife and fork in my opinion. And possibly it's the cook (my sister, who always serves quail at thanksgiving which is always at her house). But the baked/broiled or grilled quail in my opinion is just somehow not as delightful as a crispy cornmeal-crusted fried sort. They're so mild and tender, maybe the fried crust counteracts that in a way that pleases me.