Quail hunting in South Texas may be having its best season in several years. With the wet spring and summer we experienced, there have been plenty of insects, especially those darned chiggers and chinch bugs, which are crucial to the nutritional health of the chicks. The undergrowth has created good cover for the bumper crop of hatches, thus resulting in a greatcomeback year.

With that in mind, don’t forget your snake leggings (we have seen a bumper crop of rattlers to keep the other critters on their toes too!) and your favorite bird gun when you head out to your lease. I created this recipe several years ago, and it has been enjoyed on many ranches, and in several gourmet restaurants. I hope you enjoy it as well.

A brine will aid in removing undesirable enzymes and flavors from the meat, so you can begin the preparation with the clean and natural flavor of the quail.

1 Dried ancho pepper stemmed, seeded & chopped
1/2 Jar Texas Gourmet Habanero Pepper Jelly
16 oz. Chicken broth
3 T. Fresh Cilantro
4 T. Honey
2 Cloves Garlic
1 T. Black pepper
1 T Soy sauce
2 T. Lime juice
2 oz. Gold tequila (you may substitute apple juice)
2 Tsps. Olive oil

Cooking spray (Pam Olive Oil) This recipe is for 12-18 quail. Be sure to pluck, clean and rinse well. Check for pellets.

Place the Quail into a large bowl of ice water. They should be fully submersed. Add ½ cup sea salt to ½ gallon of ice water. Allow meat to sit for 1-2 hours. Pour off water and rinse the meat again with cold water.

Place the ancho pepper into the sauce pot with the chicken broth, garlic and cilantro. Bring to a boil.

Boil for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, scoop out ingredients with a slotted spoon, 1 cup liquid and place in blender. Blend until all the chunks are gone and the mixture is smooth. Return to a sauce pan and place on low heat. Add the Habanero Jelly, honey and the remaining ingredients. Heat for 8-10 minutes over medium high heat allowing flavors to blend, then bring to a good boil.

Add the tequila and light the mixture with a match or long handled lighter (be careful and use a long handled spoon as well). Stir down while on boil until the flame goes away, then remove from heat.

Spray the quail with Pam or rub down with olive oil. Place the quail on a pre-heated grill indirectly over fire (mesquite or charcoal) skin side up. Cook with the lid closed or cover with an aluminum pan. Baste, turning every 3-5 minutes basting as you turn.

Cook for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t overcook. Remove from grill and rest the meat by covering with a foil tent for approximately 8-10 minutes.

Bon Appétit!