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Bob Hart’s – Grilled Quail with a chilli kick … Or Not!

Article image for Bob Hart’s – Grilled Quail with a chilli kick … Or Not!



QUAIL are charming little birds …. most of the time. A few I have know have rather blotted their copybooks with brief ventures into cannibalism, but the less said about that the better.


Instead, focus on their finest, single quantity: as a beast which ends its days on a barbecue grill, I have to say they punch way above their weight. In short, they are bloody delicious.


The best method for cooking quail is largely down to the sort of barbecue available to you. They are superb on a spike in a Pit Barrel Cooker, for example.

But I can promise you that simply splitting, oiling, seasoning and fiercely grilling quail on a gas grill or over solid fuel with a hint of hickory will deliver spectacular results. Try this:


Split one quail per person, for a light and lively entrée, by cutting (with sturdy scissors) either side of the backbone, from neck to pointy bit,  lifting out the backbone, and then cutting through the breast bone which will deliver two identical halves. Season these well with salt, and then consider your flavour options. You can simply finish them with EV olive oil and fresh pepper, along with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or go for something a bit more exciting by brushing both sides of each half quail with that delectable Moroccan chilli paste, harissa (the widely available stuff in tubes is excellent, indicentally). The results, after a fairly brief searing on the aforementioned very hot grill, will astound you. But do not overcook quail: I reckon about 4-6 minutes a side, with a 90 degree spin about half way through each cooking segment, is about right. And even with the harissa version, don’t forget the squeeze of lemon.

Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs