Braising the brisket in cola makes for a perfectly tangy and sweet cooked-in-the-pot finishing sauce.
Mango Chile Glazed Grilled Quail
This vivid orange glaze coats the charcoal grilled quail with a perfect sweet’n’fiery kick.
A word on the chiles. Before I moved to Texas, there was really only regular chili powder in my life. Maybe chipotle powder, too. Now my chile universe has been infinitely expanded and I am surrounded by an amazing range of chile powders. I have learned that “chili powder” is not quite as simple as it sounds. It’s been so great to explore the nuances of the various chiles – some are earthy, some spicy, some fruity. If you’re not in a place that has access to a good variety of chile powders, go the extra mile to order them online (you can get the arbol here and the guajillo here). And if you can track down the whole dried peppers, you can actually make your own chile powders!
The key to getting perfectly grilled-but-not-burnt quail is the two zone grilling setup which you can check out here. Basically, it creates a hot and cool zone for you to cook with, so the quail can get a great char but also cook to a safe temperature without burning. It’s especially handy when using a high sugar glaze, which can turn from “glazey” to “cremated” faster that you’d think.
The other essential item (arguably for any kind of meat cookery) is a quality meat thermometer. I use a Thermapen, which is a calibrated instant read thermometer. Even though this type of thermometer is an investment, if you think about it, making this purchase once is FAR more economical than ruining expensive or delicate meat! For poultry and game birds, a thermometer plays two crucial roles. Firstly, it helps make sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature, and in the case of quail that magical number is 145f. Secondly, a good thermometer stops you from overcooking your meat! A lot of folks are tempted to cook their meat longer than they need to in an effort to make sure it’s safe to eat. Overcooking can lead to dried out meat, especially with birds. Knowing the exact point at which your food is cooked and ready means you’re maximising juiciness without sacrificing safety.
And so, to the meat. Can’t get your hands on quail? WORRY NOT! This recipe is perfect with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and also works brilliantly on dove, chukar, pheasant and a host of other game birds. Just make sure you’re cooking the various meats to their recommended safe internal temperatures (eg, chicken is 165f).
Mango chile glazed grilled quail
- 8 x semi boneless quail
- kosher salt
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 tablespoon guajillo chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon arbol chile powder
- 2 cups frozen diced mango
- 3 tablespoons piloncillo or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon annatto powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- Start by making the glaze. Place the frozen mango in a small pan with a splash of water, and cook over medium heat until completely softened. Mash the pieces through a strainer OR use an immersion blender to blitz until completely smooth. This step will help achieve a shiny and translucent glaze.
- To the strained/pureed mango, add the two chile powders, piloncillo/brown sugar, annatto, salt and sugar. Place over low heat and reduce to a thick, syrupy glaze. To check consistency, dip a spoon in the glaze. Run your finger through the glaze-coated spoon. If the area where you swiped stays clear, the glaze is ready. If the glaze runs into the area you swiped, it's not thick enough yet.
- Fire up a grill for two zone cooking. The hot side should be at least 350-400f.
- Pat the quail dry with a paper towel, and season well on both sides with kosher salt, then place them directly over the coals. Flip them every 20-30 seconds to develop color and char on both sides, for a total of about 3 minutes. Then, move them to the indirect/cool side of the grill. Brush them with the first layer of glaze, then close the lid. And allow to cook a further 7-10 minutes.
- Brush the quail with glaze two more times during indirect cooking. The quail is ready when it reads 145f internal temperature on a meat thermometer.
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