My love for quail, no, my obsession for any Cajun recipe that has quail as the central ingredient, drives me in my creative quest for the ultimate dish using this tasty bird. No doubt, you’ve seen my quail gumbo, my stuffed quail, smothered quail, and fried quail, so why not a quail jambalaya. And these quail sleep on a bed of Louisiana rice with the dark, pungent flavors of a Cajun jambalaya. I love it so.
This Cajun recipe is a flight of fancy combining these two ingredients—quail and rice. It is a simple execution using the aromatic trio of our beloved Cajun trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) along with the heady flavors of rice dressing mix punched with a sledgehammer hit of smoke from my favorite pork sausage, Rabideaux’s.
Tearing into a bowl of this jambalaya is Cajun cooking at its best. The juices mingle in the rice, the chunks of sausage absorb the flavors, and the pieces of quail provide a bone-gnawing contrast of tastes. Give this dish a try and see how tasty this Cajun recipe delivers on the flavor of quail.
- 4 whole quail, cleaned and partially deboned
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 4 strips of smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup beer
- 2 cups sliced smoked pork sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- Dash of hot sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups uncooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Rinse and dry the quail being careful not to tear the flesh. Using a sharp knife, cut the quail in half vertically down the middle. Sprinkle the quail halves with Cajun seasoning.
- In a large, heavy cast-iron pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon, chop into pieces and save for later.
- Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper to the bacon drippings. Cook until translucent and add the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes and then remove the vegetables to a platter.
- In the same pot, add the quail; continue to sauté until the meat turns brown, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the beer and scraping the bits from the bottom of the pot while stirring.
- Add the sausage, bacon pieces, all of the browned vegetables, parsley, and green onions. Add the cayenne and a couple of shakes of hot sauce along with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir until evenly distributed. Add the stock and stir again.
- Here is the important point of jambalaya cooking--cover the pot and place in the hot oven for 1 hour. Open a cold beer and forget about it. Do not stir or even raise the lid on the pot for the first hour. In that hour, all the flavors come together, the quail becomes tender, and the rice gently cooks.
- At the end of 1 hour, take a peek, but do not stir (or it will become sticky and starchy). Make sure most of the stock has been absorbed and take a taste to see if the rice is cooked to at least al dente. If so, turn off the oven, cover the pot and let it continue cooking in the carryover heat of the oven for another 20 minutes.
- When your guests are seated, remove the pot from the oven and place in the middle of the table. Uncover and dig in.