Santa Rita Firecracker Quail

Recipe by Tony Caggiano from

Having just returned from an amazing week of Wild Quail hunting at my good friend’s ranch in South Texas, I could hardly wait to dig in to the spoils of the hunt. Chowing down on some quail, while it was still as fresh as it could be.

We took a number of birds during our hunt; many of which were plucked and skinned to be roasted or prepared whole. Several were ‘hit harder’ than others, so I found myself with breasted and pieced-out birds as well. I decided to use these birds first, and played with a number of ideas.

My wife, Charlene, loves sweet and spicy shrimp, crispy fried, and glazed with Thai chili sauce…and the name comes from the beautiful South Texas Ranch where the quail roamed wild! This recipe was an idea of hers, inspired by one of her favorite appetizers.

We prepared it as our main course, atop lettuce and with a side of homemade fried rice. It certainly makes a delicious, attractive, and easy appetizer for parties or events as well.


  • 1 c. Thai Sweet Chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1 c. Mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 pounds of Quail breast (or another wild game bird)
  • 2 c. Buttermilk
  • 1 c. Cornstarch
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • Chopped scallions for garnish
  • Black sesame seeds


  • Add the Thai sweet chili sauce, sriracha, and mayonnaise to a bowl and stir.
  • Slowly whisk in the juice from one lime.
  • Let stand to incorporate flavors. Sauce can be pre-made and refrigerate; I find the flavors combine better with some time.
  • Add the quail and buttermilk to a second bowl.
  • Stir and toss well, making sure the meat is completed coated.
  • In a pue pan or rimmed dish, add the cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  • Add 3 inches of oil to a heavy-bottomed pan. Dutch ovens work well.
  • Heat oil to approximately 375 degrees, or over medium heat.
  • One at a time, remove quail from buttermilk and allow excess milk to drip for a moment before dipping quail into the cornstarch mixture.
  • Once coated in the cornstarch mixture, place quail into oil and fry to a light brown; 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Fry in batches so oil does not cool and breasts have plenty of room in the pot.
  • Once fried, toss the breasts in the sauce mixture.
  • Serve over a bed of lettuce or fried rice, and garnish with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.
quail recipe
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