Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Quail

6649221d-2d59-4119-a949-e16207bc693b Bacon-wrapped quail is simple but labor-intensive process. Making these appetizers can be a social event! End result? Unbelievably good.

By Krissie Mason

On a visit to Nashville, I sat down with chef Daniel Gorman. I was there to research the mainstreaming of a bacon-wrapped quail appetizer that has become an overwhelming favorite of his patrons. We talked food, outdoors and wild game.

Gorman says, “Bacon-wrapped quail is simple, but a labor-intensive process. You break ‘em, stuff ‘em, wrap ‘em, skewer ‘em and then grill ‘em over wood.”

"The quail is really nice because it doesn’t over-cook so quickly … especially when wrapped in bacon. And it loves smoke. The grill is the heartbeat of my kitchen."


2 quail quartered
2 slices Benton bacon, or other quality bacon
2 Medjool dates
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Fresh chives
Olive oil
A drizzle of sorghum, or maple syrup
A drizzle of your favorite herb 
vinaigrette dressing


1. Begin with whole quail. Split them in half, then quarter. You’ll want to have four legs and four breasts.  Very lightly salt the inside flesh. Discard winglets, or save to add to homemade stock recipes. 
2. Peel, seed, split and cut Medjool dates into quarters. (Each ¼ of the bird gets a ¼ of the date.) Manipulate the flesh around the date and then wrap with Benton’s bacon. Benton’s is the smokiest bacon ever and it comes from Tennessee.  (It’s the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon of the bacon world!) 
3. Skewer the quail quarters, salt and pepper lightly, and drizzle with olive oil.

4. Place the rosemary on a hot, wood smoke grill, then quail on the rosemary. (A little bit of charred rosemary flavor, as well as the aromatic will pop up into the quail.) Cook for 3 minutes per side. As with all things game, you don’t want to overcook, though the quail is forgiving with the date tucked inside.  
5. When they come off the grill, lightly glaze with sorghum (Kentucky-Muddy Pond is a good one) or maple syrup. Interesting note: In the North, maple syrup is the king. Sorghum is more popular in the South and is a relative new comer for home cooks.  As Chef Daniel says, “if molasses and maple syrup had a clean baby, it would be sorghum. Not as heavy or strong as molasses, not as sweet as maple. It’s in between with a more savory note.”
6. Hit the quail with a hint of vinaigrette dressing, some snipped chives and a garnish of rosemary.
Enjoy the smoky bacon, little sweet date on the inside, and the beautiful quail itself.