If asked to name one Southern dish worthy of praise, for most folks it would be fried chicken. But for me, there’s something about the taste of farm-raised quail with its delicate, close-to-the-bone meat hand-battered and fried that ascends to a higher culinary calling. And if you try my recipe for Skillet-Fried Quail, I guarantee you will understand why.
One bite into the spice and crunch of these crispy-skinned, skillet-fried quail will astound you. The sweet meat balanced by honey heat fires on every taste receptor as you go back for seconds. Believe me, if you are a follower of my Acadiana Table, you will pick up on my passion (bordering on obsession) for quail.
Skillet-fried versus deep-fried is one of the ongoing debates regarding Southern-fried anything. And while both work, there is a reason your mama’s fried food tastes different (and tastier) than the diner down the street. Pan frying keeps the food–especially meats like chicken or pork chops–in contact with the surface heat and renders a more succulent outcome.
The reason most home cooks pan fry and most restaurant kitchens deep fry is twofold: volume and consistency. For a busy restaurant, cooking in grease on a stove top takes up valuable sauté pan territory which affects kitchen output. And in the hands of an inattentive line cook, turning out a consistent quality product is hit and miss at best. Just set the temperature gauge, program a timer, and the deep fryer does all the work.
As a home cook, I fall into the pan-fried camp, and this Cajun recipe for Skillet-Fried Quail takes full advantage of the skillet-inducted heat. So, we’re packing iron here–cast iron to be exact. Pull out your heaviest 10-inch Lodge and fire up the grease. We’re cooking quail.
Serve this Skillet-Fried Quail as a dinner party appetizer or as a main course. Your friends and family will love it. What’s not to love? Sticky sweet with a crispy crunch–drizzled with honey heat–this spicy little Cajun recipe reinvents the fried chicken experience with praise-worthy skillet-fried quail.
- 4 whole farm-raised quail, cleaned
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons table salt
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup sriracha sauce
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- Peanut oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- Cut each quail in half down the breastbone and remove the backbone and any protruding portion of the neck. In a covered container, add the quail and pour over the buttermilk, hot sauce, and salt. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Make the honey heat sauce, by combining the honey and sriracha sauce in a bowl. Stir to combine and keep at room temperature.
- In a cast-iron pot or skillet over medium-high heat, add enough oil to come halfway up the side of the pan or at least 3-inches deep. Over medium-high heat, bring the oil to a temperature of 375ºF.
- Remove the quail from the refrigerator and drain on a wire rack. Add the flour, Cajun seasoning, and paprika to a mixing bowl and combine. Working in batches, dredge the wet quail halves in the flour and add to the hot oil (do not crowd the pan). Fry until golden brown and done, about 8 to10 minutes each. Drain the quail on a wire rack over a paper towel-lined tray and salt immediately. Drizzle over the honey heat sauce and sprinkle with green onion tops. Serve family style in the center of the table with extra sauce on the side.
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