Covey of Quail & Waffles With Blackberry Bourbon Maple Syrup

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Having lived the better part of the last decade south of the Mason-Dixon Line, I have indulged in many pounds worth of chicken and waffles. To my northern friends, this may sound like a stretch, but you have to trust me on this one. The combination of crunch, sweet and salt will tantalize your palate. 
 
I must commend my mother - Waffle House has nothing on her - she makes the best Belgian waffles on the PLANET. No fancy ingredients, just flawless technique. Utilizing her recipe, I infuse the waffles with fresh herbs and green onion to give it a savory touch.  One forkful of this recipe will have your taste buds whistling “bobwhite!” 
 

Ingredients

For the waffles (makes 10-12 individual squares):
  • 2 ¼ sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • ½ canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons green onion
The quail:
  • 4 semi-boneless quail (I de-boned the breasts)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flower
  • 2 ½  teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning to finish
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3-4 Tablespoons favorite hot sauce
For frying:
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • 2 cups lard
Blackberry bourbon maple syrup:
  • 1 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackberry or favorite bourbon (The rest is for your drinking pleasure)
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
To serve:
  • Favorite hot sauce 
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

I think it’s only right to pour yourself a bourbon to begin this adventure. 
 
To start, season the quail with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place the seasoned birds in a non-reactive container and cover them with the buttermilk. I recommend a minimum 4 hours with overnight being even better. 
 
Before we begin the batter, preheat the waffle iron as well as the oven to 200 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, parsley, thyme, green onions and salt whisking to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients: milk, eggs, and sugar.  Stir the wet ingredients with the dry and incorporate until fully combined. 
 
Spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour approximately ¼ of the batter and cook based on your manufacturer’s suggestion or until the waffles are perfectly golden brown. Place the cooked waffles on a parchment line baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Based on the weather, humidity, and barometric pressure, it usually makes 4 whole waffles… I hope you are sensing the humor in that.
 
Remove the marinated quail from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.
 
Place a medium-sized saucepan over high heat and add the bourbon. Allow it to come to boil and cut the heat to medium-low. Let the bourbon reduce by about half. Kill the heat and add the maple syrup and vanilla. The residual heat from the pan will heat the syrup. Hit it with a few cranks of fresh cracked black pepper.
 
Now, let’s fry. Combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Place a large 10-12 inch cast iron skillet, with the lard, and the oil, over medium-high heat. Using a candy or frying thermometer, the lard to 375 degrees and reduce the heat to medium. Working fairly fast remove the quail from the buttermilk, let the excess drip off, drop them in the seasoned flour, and gently place into the hot oil. Fry the birds for approximately 2 minutes per side or until they get deep golden brown - you know the color. Place the cooked quail on a paper towel lined plate to drain and hit them with some salt.
 
My favorite way to eat this heavenly concoction is by placing the quail on top of the fluffy waffle. Drizzle some of the bourbon infused maple syrup over the top and hit it with some powdered sugar. To take it to the stratosphere, pop with some of that hot sauce. It’s hot, salty, sticky, and sweet. Heed this piece of advice, make extra! You are sure to have a “covey” of you closest friends knocking! Hunt, cook, share, enjoy! 
 
An Ohio native and contestant on Fox' MasterChef, Tyler Viars prides himself as a “rooter to the tooter,” waste-nothing cook. Follow and interact with Viars and his Cookin’ in Camo brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.