How to Make Fried Buttermilk Quail

What happens when small, ­delicious birds meet hungry Southern hunters

fried buttermilk quail
Bite-Size Bird: It takes two whole quail to feed one hungry hunter.Ted Morrison

This recipe comes from Amy Lott Crockett of Oxford, Mississippi’s Ajax Diner, a funky meat-and-three joint, and it’s classic Southern fare. To round out this meal properly, serve with sweet tea.

Ingredients

12 whole quail, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups buttermilk

1 egg

3½ cups

All-purpose flour

3 cups chicken

Stock or broth

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Oil for frying

Directions

[1] In a large cast-iron skillet, at least 3 inches deep (or in a deep fryer), add enough oil to submerge the quail. Heat to 350 degrees.

[2] As it's heating, whisk the buttermilk with the egg until smooth. Place 3 cups of the flour on a plate and season with about a tablespoon each of salt and pepper.

[3] Dunk the Quail in the buttermilk-egg wash, shaking off any excess, and then roll the quail in the flour mixture, coating evenly. Shake off any excess, and carefully place the quail in the hot oil. Fry until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer (about 7 minutes). Remove to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Once drained, place the quail in a low oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

[4] Make the gravy: Discard all but ½ cup of the cooking oil and return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. (If using a deep fryer, just reserve ½ cup of the oil and add it to a skillet.) Add the remaining ½ cup of flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is medium brown and looks like milk chocolate. You can easily burn the flour; lower the heat if it begins to smoke, and be sure to keep stirring. Gradually whisk in the 3 cups of chicken stock, and continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened into a gravy. Add generous dashes of salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon the gravy over the quail, with a big scoop of butter beans on the side. Serves 6.

Southern Side: Bacon Butter Beans

6 cups butter beans • 4 Tbsp. butter • 1 slice bacon, chopped • 1 cup chicken stock • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Brown the bacon and add the other ingredients. Cover with water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans until tender, about 45 minutes.