You don’t often see quail on menus here in the US, which is unfortunate, because it is one of the tastiest types of poultry and is very quick and easy to make.
Because of their diminutive size, plan on serving two quail for each person for a main course, or one per person for an appetizer.
For the best flavor plan to brine your quail for about 2 hours before cooking. Don’t brine the little guys too long or they may become too salty.
This recipe works equally well roasted in a 450-degree oven or placed on a grill, as the quail cook very quickly. I like to make it on the grill as it is easier to monitor and to turn the quail, basting frequently as they cook.
Don’t forget to put out a bowl for discarded bones and have some little lemon-water dishes at each place setting for washing sticky fingers!
8 quail (about 5-6 ounces each)
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup white wine
4 bay leaves
8 strips thick-cut bacon
½ cup pepper jelly
3 tablespoons scotch (I prefer to use a peaty-smoky scotch such as Ardbeg)
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
To brine, bring to a boil 1 quart water with the kosher salt, white wine and bay leaves. Stir until the salt has dissolved, then let cool in the refrigerator. Pour the cooled brine into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag, and submerge the quail in the brine for 2 hours, turning periodically.
Remove the quail from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Discard the brine. Wrap a strip of bacon around each quail and secure with a toothpick.
In a small bowl, mix together the pepper jelly, scotch, and mustards until smooth, and set aside.
Preheat your grill to medium. Place the bacon-wrapped quail on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until the bacon begins to caramelize and brown. This will take about 10 minutes. Begin to continuously baste with the pepper jelly glaze. Grill for about 8-10 more minutes. Watch carefully, as the sugars in the glaze will cause the quail to brown quickly. At about 18-20 minutes of total grilling, the quail should be juicy, succulent and a little pink on the inside.
If you’re cooking the quail in the oven, roast for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn the quail then roast for 5 more minutes. Baste with the pepper jelly glaze and cook for 5 – 8 minutes. The quail will roast in the oven for a total of 15-18 minutes.
Let the quail sit and rest briefly, covered with foil, before serving.