The perfect smoked quail is tender, succulent, and flavorful. The secret for tenderness and juiciness is proper brining and slow cooking. The brine infuses in the meat and softens it, making it moist after smoking. Slow cooking the quail on an electric or charcoal smoker makes the meat tenderer so that it almost falls from the bones. You can experiment with different rubs and spices to get a sweet or savory flavor from your smoked quail.
This article has great smoked quail recipes with detailed step-by-step guides and pro tips and tricks on how to make delicious smoked quail.
You can smoke quail in a smoker or an outdoor barbecue grill adapted with a drip pan of water under the meat. Do you still have no smoker and can’t choose one from the sea of options? Read our detailed buying guides on the best propane smokers, best electric smokers, for high-end, budget-friendly options.
The Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker remains the most acclaimed electric smoker among grill enthusiasts and pitmasters. It is a perfect option for cooking quail.
Here is why smoking is a better cooking technique for quail:
Smoking quail is pretty fast, especially if you do proper preparations like brining to tenderize the meat prior. You only need to ensure the meat is cooked. According to Michigan State University Extension, birds should cook to a final temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. With the reviews of the best smokers, you can make your smoked quail fast and tender.
Quails are exotic birds and are not typically available in every grocery store. You may have to purchase a quail from a specialty butchery or order from a farmer who keeps them. Their rarity makes them a special delicacy with better value than chicken and other common poultry.
Smoked quail has a beautiful appearance, taste, and smell. According to an article by the Washington Post, smoking food creates the ‘Maillard’ reaction which occurs when the heat breaks down sugars and amino acids on a dry surface. The taste components of a crunchy browned exterior of a smoked quail are a result of the Maillard reaction.
When choosing quail from the specialty butchery or farm, go for the plumpest, unblemished option. A plump quail will have the best meat-to-bone ratio. Besides being unblemished, the skin should appear creamy or yellow with a light pink tint.
Avoid quail that looks dry or has peculiar smells if you want the best cooking results.
You can buy either boneless, semi-boneless, or boned quail for different quail recipes.
Also, you should use the quail within two or three days of purchase when it is still fresh. You can store it in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness for at least three days.
Preparing quail for smoking is fairly easy, especially if you buy it from a butchery. For smoking, brining and marinating are the only preparations you may need to make. According to Science Direct, brining a game bird is an essential preparation step that prevents the drying of the meat. You can dry brine or wet brine. Although rare, dry brining has been proven to retain more moisture than wet brining.
The chemistry behind brining ensures your quail is juicier even if you cook it for a while in heavy smoke. Essentially, the salt in the brine binds to the bird’s muscle proteins and denatures them. The muscle fibers retain more moisture during the entire cooking process.
Since quail has a delicate gamey flavor, you should not overpower it with strong flavors. It goes well with light salads and spring vegetables. Other suitable sides to serve with smoked quail include; cauliflower fried rice, creamy coleslaw, cornbread pudding, sweet potatoes with chorizo, and apple cranberry sauce.
The perfect temperature for smoking quail is between 200 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. You should smoke the quail until its internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. If the smoke reduces, add a fresh batch of wood chips until the bird is properly cooked.
Quail is safe to eat when cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat.
Quail meat has numerous health benefits. According to the USDA food composition database, Chicken is higher in Vitamin B3, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, and saturated fat. On the other hand, quail has higher Phosphorus, Zinc, Monounsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, and iron. Quail meat will meet your copper needs 50% more than chicken breast. Since they both give different nutrients that are all beneficial to our health, it is hard to disqualify one over the other.
Slowly smoked quail on a pellet grill or a smoker is a delicacy everyone deserves to experience. Before smoking, you can dry brine or wet brine to your taste so the quail meat can begin tenderizing. Add a handful of wood chips to the smoker for the ultimate smoked quail flavors.
When smoking, ensure there is enough oxygen in the smoker and certain coals are not burning the quail skin. You can also use wood chips on a propane grill or pellet grill. All you have to do is bundle up the wood chips in aluminum foil, poke a few holes, and place heat deflectors under the grill gate. You can get creative and make other recipes like the popular smoked quail poppers, smoked quail eggs, or bacon-wrapped smoked quail. Ensure the quail cooks to 165 degrees. The juices should run clear and the meat should not be pink.