The following is a recipe demonstrated for me by a young master chef from Chapel Hill, North Carolina—Bill Neal, owner and chief cook of the Crook’s Corner Restaurant. I would label it nouveau Southern. It is excellent.
8 cleaned quail (¼pound each)
⅛poundstreaky bacon or salt pork, cut into small cubes (about ½cup)
1tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2½tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
2½tablespoons finely diced carrot
2½tablespoons finely diced celery
1tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, or ¼teaspoon dried
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2tablespoonsbacon fat or corn oil
Preheat a charcoal grill until white ash forms on top of the coals.
Split each quail neatly along the backbone. Set aside.
Put the bacon or salt pork and garlic on a flat surface and chop until almost a paste. Put the mixture in a mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, carrot, celery, basil, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Blend thoroughly with the fingers.
By hand, carefully separate a portion of the breast meat from the bone to form a small pocket. Push equal portions of the stuffing into the cavities. Push any additional stuffing under the skin of the birds, without breaking the skin. Brush the birds all over with bacon fat or oil.
Place the quail, skin side down, on the grill and cook until nicely browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and press the outer portions together to give the bodies more of their original shape. Let cook 4 to 5 minutes on the second side, or until the desired doneness.