The City Magazine Since 1975

Classy Quail

WINNER! {Entrée} Required major ingredient: South Carolina-harvested or -raised fish or game Lou Rena Hammond When Lou’s husband took up hunting, the PR pro found herself with a freezer full of birds but few ways to prepare them. So she started collecting recipes into a “quail cookbook.” Inspired by a lamb dish and her time in the Middle East, Lou created the sweet and tangy Classy Quail. “The combination of pomegranate, spices, and pistachios was so on target,” says Marion Sullivan. “Plus,” adds Lou, “everything’s better with bacon, butter, and black pepper!”
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8 quail, cleaned
Whole buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, divided
1/4 cup dried currants

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and cut into several pieces
  • 3 Tbs. chilled butter, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for seasoning
  • Few grinds fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2 slices uncooked bacon, cut into two-inch squares for eight squares total
  • 1/4 cup panko (bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
  • Minced fresh parsley

Soak quail in buttermilk in refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight. When ready to cook, drain quail, rinse thoroughly with water, and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine one cup pomegranate juice, currants, and garlic in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until syrupy and reduced to one-third cup. Transfer to a mini-processor. Add butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. Pulse until coarse purée forms. Place processor bowl in freezer until mixture is slightly firm, about 10 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place quail breast-side up, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place a bacon square on each quail. Mix panko and pistachios. Spread pomegranate butter over birds, then sprinkle with panko mixture. Using plastic wrap, firmly press panko mixture into quail so it will adhere. Roast quail until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes (timing depends on size of quail).

Remove quail to a platter. In a small saucepan, mix pan juices with remaining pomegranate juice and boil until syrupy, several minutes. Season with dashes of cinnamon, cumin, salt, and pepper. Spoon pomegranate sauce over quail and sprinkle with parsley.

TIP: To give the quail a smoky flavor, grill it for one to two minutes on each side, then roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.