Mention tonight’s quail cookout to a friend in Central Texas, and you may be congratulated on a successful hunt; traditionally, the small, scurrying birds provide an elusive hunt through the Texas brush, followed by communal cleaning and preparation. Small as the birds come, their breasts may provide the only sizable “bite,” and they are often removed from the bird, wrapped in a jalapeño pepper with a combination of cream cheese, bacon, or other signature additions, and grilled.
As the quail Texans ultimately consume are primarily hunted by their eaters, they don’t come across the cutting board of the average home cook often enough to develop a comfortable culinary relationship. Now, however, you can save yourself the hunt and wait on the couch for whole, farm-raised quail from Bandera’s Diamond H Ranch. As far as quail go, these are plump and meaty, offering edible bites across the bird while maintaining the delicate texture perfect for quick, low-stress preparation.
Jimmy Ho (@thesmokingho) shows off his grilled quail
So if quail is the poultry you’ve never cooked because it’s never come into your kitchen, you’re missing out on a quick and versatile opportunity to get creative around a fire. What’s more – quail involve much less mystery than a chicken in terms of doneness. Like a thin steak on a hot pan, the readiness of small poultry can be estimated much more accurately from an outside view than the great mystery of the grilled chicken breast.
Choose from Diamond H Ranch’s selection of whole, split-breast, and semi-boneless varieties, or entertain with the finger food your guests have never heard of: quail knots. The birds can fully brine in just a couple hours, and unlike chicken, are easy to read on the grill. If you’re careful not to char the skin too quickly, a bird that looks done from the outside only needs a few more insurance minutes to cook through.
Try The Smoking Ho's Rub
At our Traeger-branded Grill-Off, Instagram food blogger Jimmy Ho (@thesmokingho) provided a starting point for a smoked quail, utilizing the Traeger temperature control for thorough cooking, and finishing on high heat to crisp the skin.
Using Diamond H semi-boneless quail, Ho combined equal parts salt, pepper, coffee and brown sugar for a rub, which was applied along with a hot sauce slather. The quail were cooked on the Traeger at 225 degrees until done, and crisped on high heat before service.