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quail with mustard barbecue sauce

Grilled Quail with Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Serves: 4 to 6

Hands On Time: 

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6 semi-boneless quail
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mustard barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade


Heat a grill to high.

Arrange quail on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place quail on the grill skin side-down. Brush the exposed side of the meat with the barbecue sauce. Cook just until you can see dark grill marks on the skin, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip quail and brush skin side with the sauce. Close the lid and cook until just medium-rare (the internal temperature of the bird should read between 120 and 125 degrees), about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Photo: Ramona King

About the recipe

Readily available in many supermarkets (or in your local fields, if you’re the hunting type), quail packs a lot of flavor for such a diminutive bird. It also makes a divine alternative to traditional turkey if you've got a smaller crowd for Thanksgiving this year. To give the bird a bit of Low Country flair, we've brushed it with South Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce; its tanginess and subtle spice is a fine foil to the slightly gamey flavor of the birds.

Less gamey than duck, quail only requires a short amount of cooking time over high heat to reach the proper doneness of medium rare. Since the bird has so little natural fat, cooking beyond medium-rare runs the risk of developing a grainy texture in the meat. Feel free to use your favorite bottled barbecue sauce in this recipe to keep things easy. You can also prepare the quail indoors using a grill pan.