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Southern Fried Quail Charlane Plantation

This method works well with chicken, shrimp and pheasant; though one doesn't soak the shrimp ahead of time in salted water.

  • 2 quail
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole-milk buttermilk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 quart canola, peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
Place quail in a plastic bag with cold, salted water and let soak, refrigerated, for 6 hours. When ready to cook, remove birds from water bath, pat dry, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest until quail reach room temperature. Place buttermilk in one shallow dish, flour in another. Dip birds first in milk, then flour; repeat. Set aside on a rack or plate and let dry about 15 minutes. Reserve flour.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a black cast-iron frying pan to 365 degrees. Check temperature with a thermometer, or drop some of flour-buttermilk into fat. (If it sizzles slowly, the temperature is correct. Too high a temperature will burn the coating and leave the meat raw; too low a temperature causes the birds will "boil" in the oil and be greasy. Do not crowd the frying pan, as this lowers the temperature.) Fry 12-15 minutes. As they're fried, set quail aside on paper towels to drain in a warm oven until all are fried.

To make gravy: Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of dredging flour over fat and brown, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it acquires the color of peanut butter. Add 1 cup water; stir until thickened and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper (but be mindful of the salt and pepper on the quail). Note: Using about 1/4 cup of buttermilk to make the gravy results in a creamy texture and tang. Serves one.

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