It's that time of year again. Dove season began today in a lot of areas of Texas where our Yee Yee Apparel office is located. There's nothing like waking up on that first morning of the season.
Me waking up early for work vs me waking up early for first day of hunting season pic.twitter.com/kJjki96REg— hayden (@haydensity) September 1, 2020
I didn't get very lucky out in the field this morning on the first hunt of the young year and it was obvious that maybe I should have spent a little more time skeet shooting in August. Nevertheless, it's a damn good feeling sitting in a field and watching the sun rise while echos of neighboring hunters gunning down birds ring throughout the sky.
What makes dove hunting so much fun for me is thinking up new ways to cook up the meat. Dove is one of my absolute favorite types of meat and is particularly special because you can't buy it in a store. You have to hunt it to be able to eat it. I get it - most people that have had dove typically pop the breast in a jalapeno, slide some cream cheese in there, wrap it all up in some bacon and call it a day. And there is nothing wrong with that. Hell, that's the only way I grew up eating dove. But, you would be doing yourself a disservice if that's the only way you ever cooked 'em up. Here are a few of my favorite dove recipes:
1. Fried Dove Nuggets
There are a ton of ways to fry dove and everyone has their favorite little twist on how to do it. I'm no different. Typically, I will let my dove soak in salt water for about a day to pull out the blood. Make sure you change the water about halfway through the day. From there, I will poke a few holes in the dove meat (don't annihilate it) and let it soak in buttermilk for 3-5 hours. In the meantime, you can make the batter. My favorite batter consist of flour, a little bit of baking powder, ranch powder, cayenne pepper, freshly chopped dill (don't forget this!) and some salt and pepper. When your dove is done marinating, pull it from the buttermilk, let it drip off and coat it in the batter. I'd suggest frying in a cast iron or blue carbon pan on mid-heat with olive oil for best taste. If you try this recipe first, there's a good chance that you may not even be interested in trying any of the others.
2. DOVE TORTELLINI
Ya ever heard that saying "don't knock it 'till you try it"? Well, that applies in a lot of situations with cuisine, especially here. I'm a sucker for Italian food and this was a match made in heaven for me the first time I ever tried this recipe. I can't take credit for it as I first found the recipe from the legend, Hank Shaw of Hunter. Angler. Gardener. Cook. This one combines 3 of my favorite things in the world - pasta, garlic and rosemary. You can also use this exact recipe for pigeon but I aint no city boy so I'll stick to dove. You can check out the recipe over on HAGC's website.
3. Dove and Dumplings
Ah yes, the old classic. If you've grown up in the South, there's a good chance that you've had your fair share of chicken and dumplings, a favorite of Southern grandmas everywhere. Well, this one is real similar. In fact, you wanna know the secret to this one? There's not one. I've found that most chicken and dumpling recipes will work with this and be super tasty by just replacing the chicken with dove meat instead!
But, if you are totally helpless, mine usually goes a little something like this:
Coat the dry dove meat in salt and pepper before quickly searing, 30-60 seconds per side, in a skillet with canola oil or similar. Place the dove in a pasta pot and put a little bit of water in there - just enough to barely cover the dove. Add some more salt and pepper and onion. Simmer, covered, until meat is tender. Combine flour and salt in a separate mixing bowl while waiting. Add in shortening, mixing until crumbly. Stir in an egg or two and enough milk to form a soft dough. When the dough has formed, throw some flour out on your counter, grab a roller and roll the dough until it's pretty thin. Cut into small squares. You should be able to remove the dove from pasta pot by now. Make sure the meat is tender and set aside. Add chicken bullion (or chicken stock if that is all you have) to the stock and bring to a boil. Drop in dumplings one at a time. Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Return dove to pasta pot and simmer covered for about 5 minutes. And then boom. You're done. Also, you can definitely do this exact same recipe with quail if you are a quail hunter.
4. Dove Poppers
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I know I said there are a ton of other ways to cook dove besides the typical dove poppers that everyone seems to do but I promise, this one is probably going to be better than the other poppers you've had before.
If you aren't familiar with jalapeno poppers, it's comprised of half a dove breast, shoved into half a jalapeno slice with cream cheese added and held together by a piece of bacon that wraps around the outside.
So hear me out... you're gonna do all of that. And then, when your poppers are a few minutes away from being done, take them out, coat them in apricot jam and put them back on the grill for a few minutes. You want them on just long enough to thicken and attach itself to the popper. If you do this for too long, the jam will begin to burn very quickly and it can ruin the taste all together so it's a real fine line here.
There it is! I know some of y'all probably have some homemade, passed-down dove recipes out there. Let's hear 'em and let us know what we missed in the comments! I want to learn some new ways to cook dove meat this year.