Think schnitzel, and you usually think veal or pork: pounded into tenderness, battered, and fried to a golden magnificence. But Matt Jennings, chef at Townsman restaurant in Boston, thinks quail. With a crust that shatters with a fork, the quail are tucked into a nest of frisée lettuce that’s dressed with a honey vinaigrette, then get a drizzle of maple syrup. Chukars would be great here too—and if you have breasted out your birds, pound the meat lightly between layers of plastic wrap and proceed with the recipe, shortening the frying time accordingly.
8 quail, deboned if desired; if not, split in half
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
2 cans (or 24 oz.) lager beer
2 sprigs rosemary
4 juniper berries
1 tsp. chile flakes
2 Tbsp. honey
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus an
3 cups cornflakes
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1⁄2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
1 Granny Smith apple
1 head frisée lettuce, cleaned well
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying
1. Brine the quail: Combine the brown sugar, salt, lager, rosemary, juniper berries, and chile flakes in a pot with 1⁄2 gallon of water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the brine cool completely. Submerge the quail with a small bowl on top to keep them under the brine. Marinate for up to 2 hours.
2. Prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together the honey and apple cider vinegar and then, while whisking, add the olive oil in a thin steady stream until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Make the dredging mixture by combining 1 cup flour with the cornflakes, breadcrumbs, and spices in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it’s still a little crumbly.
4. Set up a dredging station by arranging three containers close to the stovetop, one each for the additional flour, buttermilk, and dredging mixture.
5. Bring about an inch of oil to roughly 325 degrees in a Dutch oven or deep skillet.
6. Drain the quail and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Take each quail and dip it into the flour, coating it thoroughly but shaking off any excess. Dip the birds into the buttermilk, then dredge them in the cornflake mixture, making sure each is completely coated.
7. Lower the quail into the oil and cook them, turning with tongs as needed, until crispy and golden, about 4 minutes per side. When done, remove them to a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
8. Peel and shave the apple at the last minute, and combine with the frisée lettuce in a bowl. Dress lightly with the vinaigrette. (You may not need to use all of the dressing.)
9. Plate the meal: Place some apple salad on each plate and top with two quail. As a finishing touch, drizzle maple syrup evenly over the dish and serve. Serves 4