A Cooking Lesson: Guilotas (Quail) en Salsa de Molcajete

Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete
Guilotas en Salsa de Molcajete
Quail with Roasted Tomato Chile Salsa (made in a molcajete)

Many of you have met Marlene, we have worked together over the years at various catering events and dinner parties. It would be difficult to pull off those events without her. Her extraordinary organization skills, strength, speed, and attention to detail, her eye for perfection all make her, in a word, indispensable. And boy oh boy, can she cook! No matter what the event – after a few minutes she knows her way around the kitchen – any kitchen, any where.

A while back, she had told me about one of her favorite dishes called guilotas en salsa de molcajete. I told her that I would love to try it someday… Well just the other day, to my delight, she had a surprise for me. I returned home from work and she had brought over 4 quail, seasonings, tomatoes, chiles, garlic, and cilantro, and proceeded to give me a cooking lesson. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. And as a bonus – there was dinner less than 40 minutes later.

Guilotas en Salsa de Molcajete Recipe

Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete



  • 4 quail, total weight 18 oz., defrosted
  • chicken bouillon powder
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • white rice for serving


  • 5 roma tomatoes
  • 2-3 serrano chiles
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped with a few leaves reserved for garnish
  • salt to taste

Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete

Cook long grain white rice so it is ready when the quail are finished cooking.

Separate and rinse quail under running water. Using a kitchen shears, cut the breast lengthwise to butterfly. Season with chicken bouillon, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Heat one cup of water in large skillet over medium heat.  When the water boils, add the quail, skin-side up. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then flip the birds and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the lid to evaporate any remaining water. Add a good splash of olive oil to the pan to sauté the quail.

A Cooking Lesson: Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete

A molcajete is the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle. While most molcajetes have a wider base which makes better work of crushing the tomatoes, a standard mortar and pestle will do the job with a little extra patience.

Meanwhile – roast tomatoes, chiles, and garlic on a comal or flat top over high heat until charred. Crush the garlic in the molcajete, then smash the chiles. Add tomatoes, one at a time, until everything is blended together. Add salt to taste.

When the quail is browned and starting to get crispy, add the roasted tomato chile salsa to the pan, simmer until hot and incorporated with the olive oil. Add chopped cilantro.

To serve: plate quail with sauce, garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with white rice on the side.

Muchas Gracias

Although Marlene knows that I think she is amazing, and thank her every opportunity I get – I want to take this moment to thank her publicly, to recognize her generosity, incredible work ethic, and fabulous cooking skills. You are a gem. Thank you so much for teaching me how to make guilotas en salsa de molcajete, another stellar dish to add to my culinary repertoire.  Muchas gracias, Marlene!

Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete

Food Network


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A Cooking Lesson: Guilotas (Quail) en Molcajete

Summer Soiree is a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with bloggers to share recipes about everyone’s favorite summer dishes. Be sure to check out the Pinterest Board with over 200,000 followers called Let’s Pull Up A Chair!

And if Marlene’s Guilotas en Salsa de Molcajete got you in the mood to go back to (cooking) school – you might enjoy taking a peek at other school related dishes from some fabulous bloggers below…

Feed Me Phoebe: Easy Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Chives
Weelicious: Easy School Lunches
Virtually Homemade: Brown Bag Pumpkin Chocolate Bars
Back to (Cooking) School: How to Make Quail
Dishin & Dishes: Kid Size Caprese Salad in Five Minutes

3 thoughts on “A Cooking Lesson: Guilotas (Quail) en Salsa de Molcajete”

  1. I’ve never cooked or even dated quail! My only contact with a quail was in Central Park, NYC where one was inexplicably roaming around and someone asked me what kind of duck it was. That said, the salsa sings and as good as it was with the quail – imagining it with poultry. Or you know – just spoon feeding yourself!

    1. HI Joan – you can find guilotas in the frozen section of most Mexican supermarkets.
      I plan to try some more recipes using Marlene’s butterfly/skillet method.

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