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2000s Recipes + Menus

Grilled Charmoula Quail

  • Active Time:30 min
  • Start to Finish:2 1/2 hr
May 2006
The perfume of dried spices combines with fresh cilantro to telegraph the taste of Morocco in an assertive rub that was made for the grill.
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (not hot)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 semi-boneless quail
  • Special equipment:

    8 (12-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in warm water 1 hour; an electric coffee/spice grinder
  • Accompaniment:

    lemon wedges
  • Break cinnamon stick in half, then finely grind cinnamon, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, and cloves together in grinder. Transfer spice mixture to a large bowl and whisk in paprika, cayenne, ginger, salt, cilantro, garlic, and oil. Add quail, turning to coat, then transfer to a large sealable plastic bag and marinate, chilled, 2 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before cooking, prepare grill for cooking over indirect heat with medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas); see "Grilling Procedure."
  • Arrange 2 quail on a work surface side by side, breast sides up, with drumsticks closest to you. Horizontally thread 1 skewer through drumsticks and the lower carcasses of birds. Thread a second skewer, parallel to first, through wings and upper carcasses, then arrange quail so that there is 1 inch of space between the birds. Repeat procedure on remaining quail, 2 at a time.
  • Lightly season quail with salt, then grill on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, 5 to 6 minutes total. Serve quail with lemon wedges.
Cooks' note: If you can't grill outdoors, quail can be cooked in a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderate heat.