Learn how to make a delicacy common in Greek cooking. Fried quails which are then cooked in wine to create a delicious sauce. I love to serve quails with home made French fries for a special meal. Fried quails are also great as part of a meze (or appetizer) table.
If you have never cooked quails before, let me show you how. It is actually a very easy ingredient to work with and very popular in many parts of the world, including Greece. Quails are delicious, their meat is tender and delicate. It tastes like chicken, but more flavourful. I love to serve fried quails with homemade French fries, or even oven roasted lemon potatoes.
Why this recipe works!
Quails are small and delicate, and because of that they are easy to overcook and dry out. I first fry my quails to give them a crispy exterior and then they are cooked in liquid (wine, water and olive oil). This keeps the meat so moist, and the quails are full of flavour.
I also share with you the seasoning that my parents use on their fried quails – and yes, it is not traditional Greek cooking because they use something called Montreal steak spice. Clearly in the village back in Greece this was not an ingredient that was used, but my parents have come to rely on it quite a bit here in Canada! They use Montreal steak spice on their grilled steak, in the marinade for homemade pork souvlaki, and many other recipes too.
Here are the items you will need to make fried quails, and the homemade french fries.
For the fried quails
Quails – These small game birds are a delicacy. I usually find them frozen, in packs of six. Frozen quail is perfectly fine to use, but of course if you can find them fresh, you can use those instead.
Olive oil – I pan-fry my quails in olive oil to get them golden brown. The olive oil is then poured into the pot to help create the stock that the quails finish cooking in. So delicious! The olive oil adds flavour and ensures that the quail meat stays nice and moist.
White wine – Any white wine that you like to drink (so long as it is not a sweet white wine) will work great in this recipe. I tend to enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay.
Oregano – When I use oregano, I always use dry Greek oregano. The flavour and the aroma cannot be beat.
Montreal steak spice – This is definitely an unusual ingredient for this Greek recipe, but trust me, it works! Actually, trust my parents because this is the way that they taught me to make fried quails. Montreal steak spice is a combination of several spices and if you can’t find it, just use as much garlic powder, salt, ground pepper, paprika and any other spice you like.
For the French fries
Potatoes – I usually prefer to use yellow fleshed our Yukon Gold potatoes when I make French fries, but really any potatoes will do just fine. I tend to peel them, and cut them into wedges.
Vegetable oil – I usually fry my potatoes in vegetable oil, but in Greece often times the potatoes are fried in olive oil. It is your choice!
Oregano – The best topping for French fries in my opinion, is salt and dry Greek oregano! Add plenty of it for a delicious flavour.
How to make the fried quail
Cooking quail is actually really simple. I think you will make this recipe again and again once you see how easy it is.
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears cut the quails along the breastbone so that they are in two halves. Season with salt, oregano and steak spice.
Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan so that the oil is about 1 inch deep. Place the quails into the pan cut side down first. You will not be able to fit all the quails into the pan at once. Fry the quails in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Fry until golden brown, flipping the quails so that they brown on all sides. Transfer them to a pot. When all the quails are fried and in the pot add the wine and water.
Strain the olive oil that you used to fry the quails and add this to the pot as well. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes, covered.
Serve along with some favourite sides and enjoy!
To make the French fries you can follow the instructions and recipe for homemade French fries here.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
Pat your quails dry
Before seasoning and then frying your quail be sure to pat them dry with clean paper towels. This will make it easier to season your quails, and they will also brown better when you are frying them.
Do not overcook your quail
Because they are such small game birds, it is easy to overcook your quail. Make sure to cook them only until you reach an internal temperature of 180 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frequently asked questions
What is quail?
Quail are a mild tasting small game bird. There are several varieties of quail but they are quite similar in flavour and therefore can be used interchangeable in recipes.
Is quail good to eat?
It certainly is delicious to eat! Quails are enjoyed in many parts of the world and they are generally considered to be quite healthy. The meat is lean and rich in iron and vitamin C and richer in vitamin A than chicken is.
How to serve
I love to serve quail with some homemade french fries. If you want to add some green to the plate, I would opt for broccoli the way Greeks like to enjoy it, or some rapini or a beautiful Greek maroulosalata (lettuce salad).
If you are interested in cooking with a variety of different meats, fish and poultry you may like the following recipes too:
Fried Quails with French fries
- 6 quails
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- 1 tbsp Montreal steak spice see Recipe Note
- olive oil for frying
- 1 cup white wine
- 1½ cup water
- Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears cut the quails along the breastbone so that they are in two halves. Pat them dry with paper towels. Season with salt, oregano and steak spice.6 quails, ½ tbsp salt, 1 tbsp dry oregano, 1 tbsp Montreal steak spice
- Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan so that the oil is about 1 inch deep. Place the quails into the pan cut side down first. You will not be able to fit all the quails into the pan at once. Fry the quails in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.olive oil for frying
- Fry until golden brown, flipping the quails so that they brown on all sides. Transfer them to a pot. When all the quails are fried and in the pot add the wine and water.1 cup white wine, 1½ cup water
- Strain the olive oil that you used to fry the quails and add this to the pot as well. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes, covered.
- Serve along with some favourite sides and enjoy!