By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley
This quail and waffles recipe makes a strong argument for plucking and cooking game birds whole. Flavorful and juicy, quail are one of my favorite game meats, and as far as prep, I find them more forgiving than most. They’re fairly tender off the field and the meat isn’t so dark and lean that slightly overcooking them would be disastrous— they’re delicious deep fried.
This recipe follows classic fried chicken and waffles, but the chilies and maple syrup will be a nice surprise. The sweet and spicy flavors compliment this upland bird brilliantly and also helps to tie in the seemingly odd pairing with waffles.
Recipe: Quail and Waffles with Spicy Maple Syrup
Active Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- 8 whole quail, plucked
- 2 cups of buttermilk
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- ½ teaspoon of paprika
- ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne powder
- 2 tablespoons of milk or water
- ¾ cup of real maple syrup
- 1½ tablespoon of Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Paste
- 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice
- Frying oil: peanut, canola or vegetable oil
- 4 servings of frozen waffles
1. The night before, cut out and discard each quail’s spine with kitchen shears. Then lay the birds breast side up and press down with the palm of your hand to flatten, breaking the breast bones. Place the quail in a bowl or heavy-duty zip-top bag and submerge in buttermilk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 275° F. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, chili paste and lemon juice, and then set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, seasoned salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper and milk; the milk adds moisture to create craggy bits in the flour that turn crispy when fried.
3. Fill a heavy-bottomed, 10-inch frying pan halfway with oil and heat to 325°. Meanwhile, remove quail from the buttermilk and set on a large rimmed cookie sheet—do not pat dry, they need to be wet for the flour mixture to stick. Season birds with kosher salt.
4. When oil approaches temperature, generously coat the birds in the flour mixture. Lift the quail by the legs and lay them breast side down in the hot oil, away from you. You should be able to fry two quail at a time in a 10-inch pan. Fry quail until golden and then flip to fry the other side. Repeat with the rest of the birds. Drain cooked quail on a frying rack and keep warm in the oven.
5. When you are almost done frying the quail, toast the frozen waffles. Serve warm quail with waffles and spicy maple syrup drizzled on top.
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to see more delicious quail recipes in the pages of Quail Forever Journal, become a Quail Forever member today!