In the immortal words of Kevin Gillespie, executive chef at the Woodfire Grill, quail are like the "Thumbelina of poultry" and when done right they are the pure awesomeness!
In his cookbook Fire in my Belly (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2014), Gillepsie shows how to grill quail to perfection and ensure that they don’t end up dried out and gamey tasting. To make it even better, he’s created a honey glaze that compliments the little birds perfectly!
GRILLED HONEY-LACQUERED QUAIL
Confit garlic (recipe follows)
Red wine vinegar
4 quail with skin on, breast bones removed, leg and wing bones intact (often labeled “semiboneless”)
Prep ahead: You can make the honey lacquer ahead and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just heat it up a little in a pan before using, so it’s free-flowing.
1. Put the honey and garlic confit in an 8-inch sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. When the mixture starts to bubble and foam, cut the heat down to medium. As the honey cooks, take a whiff. After a couple minutes, it will begin to smell like toasted rice, then the aromas of the flowers will start to develop; orange blossom honey will have a citrus aroma, wildflower honey will smell more floral. The flavors will intensify and the honey will start to change color from very pale to slightly golden after about 5 minutes. When the color starts to change, add the vinegar. It will foam up and then deflate, and the mixture will continue to bubble. Cut the heat down so that the mixture simmers very gently and cook for another 15 minutes. The mixture will be crazy hot, so be very careful. Gently pull the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Puree the mixture in a blender, then strain the puree and discard the solids.
2. Heat a grill for direct high heat.
3. Pat the quail dry, brush both sides lightly with oil, and season the breast side with salt. Scrape the grill clean and coat it with oil. Set the quail on the grill, breast side down, at a 45-degree angle to the grates. Grill for 1 minute, rotate 90 degrees, then cover with a foil pan or metal bowl and grill for another 2 minutes. Flip the quail over, cover again, and grill for 2 minutes more. Remove the quail from the grill and immediately brush on a thin, even coating of the honey lacquer. Let the quail rest for 2 minutes before serving.
—From Fire In My Belly, by Kevin Gillespie/Andrews McMeel Publishing/LLC