Tasty eating a bonus to the fun of hunting birds
Dove Hunt 2011
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Last year's edition of the Dove Hunting guide included some very tasty dove recipes that are well worth repeating along with a share of new recipes along with some tips of the trade.
Once you have your dove safely in your game bag, then the work begins. From the start, be concerned in keeping the birds cool until you get them home. As with any game meat, if it is not taken care of properly in the field, the meat will be wasted, a successful hunt gone bad.
Once you have the birds home, it's time to retrieve the breast from each bird and get it free of feathers (a lot of hunters remove the skin as well) and spent shot. Wash the breasts carefully — a good tip by Lois Kitchell is to always wash breasts in salty water to get rid of dirt and such so they'll have a good flavor. Makes good sense!
After washing the breasts, Lois sprinkles with salt and pepper and dredges each breast in flour. She says to fry as you would chicken — a cast iron skillet is perfect for the job. When browned on both sides, cover and cook slowly to tenderize — keep turning until tender and ready to eat.
I'm still partial to slowly barbecuing my skinned dove breasts wrapped in bacon held together with toothpicks. I've found it works really well for cooking to debone the breast as long as you don't waste any meat. After a good washing and cleaning, my son Kevin takes the breasts wrapped in bacon outside to the grill (propane) and cooks them ever so slowly (he uses our cast iron griddle), turning them often, until the bacon is sizzling and well-done along with the dove. Combining the taste of bacon and dove can't be beat — my mouth waters just thinking about dove season about to begin again. I'm ready!
The recipe by Mac Castle of Quail Unlimited in last year's dove edition is a great variation to what we've been doing all along and good to repeat as a reminder to any of us doing the cooking.
Ingredients for his Basted Dove Breasts in a Bacon Blanket are 10-20 dove breasts, cleaned and ready to cook, two cups sliced onions, two tablespoons crushed garlic, strips of bacon for each dove breast, enough wine to cover. In the crockpot, mix the onions, garlic and dove breasts. Make sure the breasts are lying breast side down. Cover with wine and cook on high for 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the breasts from the sauce, wrap them in the bacon and secure with a toothpick. Cook on the grill until the bacon is done. Be careful that you don't overcook them. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you use a red wine, you can make purple rice to serve with the doves by cooking a cup or so of rice in the marinade sauce. Serve with almond-stuffed dates for a taste of the desert.
The Dove Stroganoff by Ron Engel-Wilson (of Game and Fish) is another recipe worth taking advantage of for variety. Ingredients: 24 doves, 1 cup flour, salt and pepper to taste, 4 bouillon cubes (I'd use chicken), 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 pint sour cream, 2 cups onions, sliced, oil and 1/2 cup milk.
Doves may be plucked or skinned, breasted or filleted. Pat the doves dry, shake in flour and brown in a pan with very little oil. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to doves and hot oil; brown and make a roux. Add the 1/2 cup of milk and begin to stir. Once the roux has dissolved, add the onions and reduce heat to a simmer.
When the onions are soft, add the rest of ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. If it gets too thick, add more milk. Burgundy or white wine may be added to thin the sauce. Stir to keep from sticking. Serve over rice, biscuits, potatoes or fresh bread, with a green salad.
Cooking dove in a crockpot is another great method to use to come up with tasty, tender breasts. Once the breasts have been cleaned and are ready to cook, dredge in flour and place in the crockpot to brown slowly. Then add any liquid you prefer (could be beef or chicken stock, Italian dressing, for example, or soup — try onion or mushroom) along with a large sliced onion, celery if you like, plenty of minced garlic and salt and pepper.
Here again, liquid could be combined with wine if you like. Cook on medium heat 3-4 hours until tender. Can be served over rice, egg noodles or rice. Very close to the recipe used last year by Bill Larson.