In the summertime, I grill kebabs on a regular basis. It is a great way to use a variety of garden vegetables that appear in markets and farm stands near you, to gather your favorite chunks of meat and to experiment with marinades and spices that caramelize well over an open flame.
Quail is one of my favorite game meats to turn into kebabs because the meat is naturally tender and mild, and it pairs well with a mixture of smoke and seasonings. This particular recipe was described to me while I was in England, sitting at the fireside of an old English pub with a lovely woman. She is married to a farmer and gamekeeper and is frequently faced with a glut of game birds. This is one of her favorite recipes, no doubt inspired by the high-quality ethnic food that is now prevalent in Britain. You can also add any medley of vegetables to these skewers or make a meat-only kebab. The yogurt enzymes in the marinade help tenderize the meat and the spices infuse it with flavor as it soaks for several days.
If you’re in a rush, you can marinate the meat for less time, but a minimum of several hours is ideal for maximum flavor and tenderness. If you don’t have quail available to you, this can also work with just about any other meat. Try goose, grouse, prairie chicken, partridge, pheasant, pigeon, turkey, squirrel, rabbit or even domestic chicken and pork.
Serve these skewers alongside a bed of couscous mixed with orange pieces and mint and you’ll have a fresh summer meal perfect for a picnic, party or lazy afternoon.
4 quail, quartered, deboned and cut into large chunks
4 tablespoons finely diced green chiles
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup coconut milk
1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for two days in the refrigerator.
2. If using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes first. Then skewer the chunks of meat onto four wooden or metal skewers and barbecue for about six minutes, rotating and basting with the marinade once (discard any remaining marinade). Alternatively, you can broil the skewers in the oven, though be careful not to overcook them or they will become dry. Recipe serves four.