Chicken-Fried Quail and Grits

Winter 2012

Executive chef Kevin Grafton of Hackberry Creek Country Club in Irving, Texas, serves this Creole-spiced, juicy quail with belly-warming cheese grits and rich pecan gravy. “The crispy succulent quail and the nutty-flavored pecan gravy are a perfect pairing and a nice change of pace, especially in the throes of winter.” 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Cajun spice
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
6 semiboneless whole quails
2 cups peanut oil

1 box instant grits
1 cup grated aged white cheddar cheese
Pecan Gravy (recipe follows)

Place flour in a large zip-close bag and season with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice. In a large bowl, mix eggs and buttermilk together. Set aside.

Place quail in the zip-close bag with the flour and shake to coat. Remove quail and dip each in the buttermilk bath. Repeat the flour-coating process and shake off excess. 

In a large deep skillet, add the peanut oil and heat. When oil is hot and starting to bubble, carefully place the quail in the oil and fry about 2 minutes each side. Remove quail and drain on paper towels.

Make grits according to box instructions. Stir in the grated cheddar at the end of cooking time and season with salt and pepper. To serve, place chicken-fried quail atop a serving of grits and drizzle with Pecan Gravy.

Yield: 6 servings

PECAN GRAVY

1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

Grind the flour and pecans together in a food processor. In a saucepan, heat butter and add the pecan/flour mixture to make a roux. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring so it doesn’t burn, then add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

CHEF’S SECRET: “Quail can be purchased at most high-end grocery stores and many sell it fresh and semiboneless in a pack of four. Makes it so much easier to eat with fewer bones.”

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