For the brine:
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (or 4 tablespoons Morton Kosher salt, or 3 tablespoons table salt)
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons Tabasco
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
For the Tabasco butter:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons celery, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 6 1-tablespoon pieces
Lemon juice and salt to taste
For the quail:
2 whole quail
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko
Vegetable shortening or oil for frying
Two ounces bacon, roughly chopped
Buttermilk-fried quail with Tabasco butter
Make the brine: dissolve the salt in the water. Add the rest of the brine ingredients and stir to combine. Chill thoroughly.
Prepare the quail: using scissors, cut out the backbone and discard (or save for stock). Turn the quail over and cut the bird in half lengthwise, using the wishbone as a guide. Separate the leg section from the breast section. Cut off the wings, disturbing the skin as little as possible, and discard (or save for stock). Put the breast and leg portions in the brine for at least two hours, up to five.
Cook the bacon in 1/2-inch shortening or oil in a heavy skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat (the target temperature is 350 F). Remove the bacon when done (nibble on it while you make the rest of the meal).
Make the Tabasco butter: sauté the shallot, garlic and celery in the oil until soft (do not brown them).
Add the wine and simmer until the wine is reduced to a glaze.
Add the thyme, cream and Tabasco, and bring to a boil (carefully, lest the cream boil over). Boil for a few minutes, until the cream is thick and slightly darkened.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, making sure that each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Season with lemon juice and salt. Strain into a warm bowl and keep warm until service.
Cook the quail: Combine the rice and all-purpose flours in a shallow bowl. Crack the eggs into another bowl and whisk to combine.
Remove the quail from the brine and set on a rack. Combine the salt, white pepper and cayenne. Sprinkle over both sides of the quail.
Dip the quail pieces into the flour, then the egg, then the panko, making sure the quail is completely covered by the mixtures at each step.
Fry the quail pieces in the fat until golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes per side.