Achiote paste, or recado rojo, gives the rub for this Red Roasted Quail recipe a deep red hue, making for visually striking roasted holiday birds. Arranged around the outside edge of a round platter, these birds will look like a red holiday wreath. Serve with a winter greens or simple herb salad.
Achiote paste is a bright red-orange seasoning from the Yucatan made of ground annatto seeds, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. Thinned with citrus juices, it becomes a bold, tangy marinade for quail roasted on the grill.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
Pinch ground cinnamon
8 cloves garlic
2 ounces achiote paste
12 whole quail
Canola oil, for the grill
Combine juices, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, and achiote in a blender and process until smooth.
Pat the quail dry, then coat inside and out with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, 3 to 5 hours.
Prepare a grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grates. Sear quail breast side down on hot side of grill, until skin lightly browns and birds can be lifted without sticking, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, then move to cooler side of grill. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted in breast reads 165 degrees F, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from grill, cover loosely with aluminum foil and rest for 5 minutes.