My experience growing up in rural south Georgia from the late 1950’s through the early 70’s was a completely different world from today. Granted, we were somewhat isolated in our little corner of the state. There was one small town (pop. about 2000) and the rest of the citizens were widely scattered throughout the various farms in the county. There were no cell phones, no computers, no video games. We got three television channels and then only if the antenna was positioned just right. Life was slower, much more mellow and there was time. Time to share with family and friends. Time to relax. Time to just play.
I’ve talked before about how we spent long, hot summers gathering everything possible from the garden and freezing or canning it to use during the winter. Back then in our little corner of the world, people grew much of what they ate. There were always peas to be picked and shelled. Butterbeans, too. And of course, the always dreaded corn shucking. That wasn’t my favorite because you had to do it outside where the heat and mosquitoes tormented you until your task was finished. We’d snap green beans, blanch and freeze them. And the same for squash. Summer also was the time for making pickles. Bread and butter pickles were always my favorite.
Besides gardening and growing vegetables, people raised their own cows and pigs and they also hunted and fished. All the men in my family were hunters and fishermen and they kept our tables and freezers supplied with fish, game and birds year round. We had a steady supply of catfish, bream and trout along with venison, dove and quail. Quail were my favorite of the wild game because they had less of that game-y taste. Right before Thanksgiving this year I started craving some southern fried quail. It had been years since I’d had any and since we don’t really have any hunters in the family now I started looking around for a source. To make a long story short, I finally found whole farm-raised quail at Whole Foods. Let me tell y’all something – quail are not inexpensive when you purchase them at Whole Foods. Whew! There was some sticker shock for sure! And to think we used to have them for the cost of a few shotgun shells.
8 whole quail
Salt and pepper
Rinse the quail and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Generously season each bird with salt and pepper both inside and out.
Place quail in a pan and sprinkle over a generous amount of flour, turning the quail in the flour to thoroughly coat the birds.
Meanwhile, in a well-seasoned black iron skillet bring enough oil for frying up to temperature. You’ll want oil to a depth of about 1-inch.
Add prepared quail to the hot oil and fry turning occasionally until golden brown all over.
Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Other recipes for quail you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Southern Fried Quail with Cream Gravy from Chow.com
- Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Greens and Fried Quail with Buttermilk Dressing
- Braised Quail with Wild Mushrooms from Cooking Channel’s Laura Calder (love her show!)