In the world of cooking, some meat is more exotic than others.
Quail is an unusual bird that is worth tasting. And if you are going to get adventurous trying quail, why not try it smoked?
This raises a whole new question. If you are smoking quail, what are the best woods to smoke it with?
This article will explore the best woods for smoking quail and other quail related culinary matters.
In this post we'll cover:
What is Quail?
Quail is a small ground nesting game bird from the Phasianidae family of peasants.
As a culinary dish, it is popular in a variety of cuisines. It is commonly served on the bone, because the small size of the birds makes the bones difficult to remove.
Quail has a texture that is similar to chicken but the taste is more flavorful.
This limits the need for spices and dressings.
Popular recipe include one for quail brushed with lard, bread crumbs and beaten eggs and then baked.
The birds can also be stuffed with a mixture of spices and vegetables.
Another option is to make them into a pie with pork, eggs and fresh herbs.
Another great alternative to chicken is Cornish Hen!
What is the Best Wood for Smoking Quail?
With most types of meat, the wood you use will be based on the taste of the meat.
Generally, a meat with a lighter taste, like chicken, works well with a lighter wood. Lighter woods will not overpower the taste.
If you are smoking a dish with a heavier flavor, like red meat, you want to use a stronger wood.
Smoking with a lighter wood may not give the food enough of smokey taste.
Quail is unusual because it falls somewhere in the middle.
It’s chicken-like texture means it will blend well with lighter woods but, because it is so flavorful, it will also hold up to heavier woods.
The type of wood you choose may depend on the recipe. You can decide which wood to use based on the other flavors you are incorporating in your dish.
Some Woods To Try When Smoking Quail
- Oak: Oak is a go-to for almost any type of meat. It adds a medium smokey taste which works well with just about any dish.
- Hickory: Hickory has a hearty, sweet and savory taste that can easily become overpowering if you’re not careful.
- Maple: Maple is one of the most subtle woods and it will give your meat a sweet, light flavor.
- Mesquite: Mesquite is known for giving meat an intense smokey flavor. It is best when used in small quantities.
- Pecan: Pecan has a sweet, nutty flavor that some might consider overly sweet. You may want to add another type of wood to counter the sweetness.
- Apple: Apple has a mild, sweet taste. It may require several hours of smoking for it to permeate the meat.
- Alder: Alder adds a light, sweet taste to foods.
- Cherry: Cherry is mild and sweet and combines well with hickory.
Woods to Avoid When Smoking Quail
Because quail goes with almost any type of wood, you will be hard pressed to find one it doesn’t go well with.
Therefore, you should only really avoid using wood that would not be appropriate for any type of food.
- Any wood that has been treated: These woods can contain flavors that will affect the taste of food and may even make you sick.
- Wood that is overly green: Unless handled by an expert, wood that is very green will not burn properly and it will give food a funny taste.
- Woods high in conifers like pine, redwood, fir, spruce, cypress and cedar contain high levels of sap that can also give food a funny taste and can make people sick.
Tips for Smoking Quail
Here are some tips for making a flavorful quail.
- Brine in Advance: To ensure quail will be nice and juicy, it’s best to put it in a brine in advance. Brine requires ½ cup salt for ½ gallon of water. You can also add brown sugar or maple syrup for a sweeter taste. Put the meat in a plastic bag with the brine and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before smoking.
- Get the Temperature and Timing Right: While the meat is marinating, start preheating the smoker until it reaches a temperature of 200 to 250 degrees. Then cook meat 1 to 1 ½ hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Season as Desired: Quail does not require a lot of seasoning but it goes well with black pepper, chili powder, sage and other poultry seasonings.
Now that you know the best woods for smoking quail, as well as some other cooking tips, you are ready to start on your quail smoking adventures.
Here’s hoping you make a terrific meal!