September marks the end of summer, and a time of melancholy for many people as we end our summer vacations and resume a regular routine. For me, however, the end of summer marks the beginning of my favorite season. Hunting begins again and with it comes the smell of the crisp fall air, the turning of the leaves and all of the good food that gets harvested—namely the savory medley of game birds that appear on my table.
I just participated in one of my favorite social events of the year, the opening day of dove season over Labor Day weekend. And as always, I have been pondering what new and unique recipes I can invent with dove meat. As I work on those for you, I thought I’d share some of my favorite dove recipes from years past for you to try:
Devil Doves offer that sweet, salty, fatty goodness in bite-sized packages. The sweetness of the dates blend with creamy goat cheese and smoky bacon. You will love the taste of these, and the best part is that you can try this recipe with other birds when doves aren’t available—quail works especially well.
14 Dove Putach is a stew of tomato, rosemary, vinegar and braised meat. It is a dish often made by Italian immigrants in the south and works wonderfully with whole doves, if you have the patience to pluck them. I hope you do, because whole plucked braised doves offer so much more flavor than just the breasts, and they don’t take long to pluck, especially when they are freshly harvested. Don’t have any doves? Try squirrel, it is another favorite when paired with the vinegar and rosemary in this dish.
Beer Battered Dove Breasts are wonderful when you prefer to breast your bird. It is simple and only requires ingredients that are usually on hand anyway during a dove hunt—birds and beer. Upon tasting this recipe, one of my fellow hunters said: “This makes me want to learn to shoot better.” And if you’re not heading to a corn field any time soon, this batter works really well with many other proteins, as well as with vegetables. I recommend a sweet and sour dipping sauce, or even a barbecue sauce to serve it with. But it is also nice on its own. The beer and baking soda give it a puffiness along with some crunch, the perfect compliment to that rich liver flavor dove tends to have.
This recipe for Huckleberry Grilled Doves comes from my friend Hank Shaw. He uses huckleberries in a barbecue sauce because they are ready to harvest at the same time the doves are. He prepares them by first grilling the doves and then glazing them with the mixture. High heat cooking allows you to crisp the skin and keep the meat pink inside. Once again, this recipe works best with plucked, whole doves. Don’t have huckleberries in your area? You can try store-bought berries—blueberries or raspberries will do just fine.
Grilled Doves, Portuguese Style is another great recipe from Hank Shaw. It features Portuguese flavors like garlic, chile peppers and paprika. He uses the sauce as a marinade first to impart flavor into the meat before cooking the meat on a grill to medium-rare. This recipe will also work well with other birds like squab, which can be purchased farmed at a grocery store when hunting doves isn’t an option.
What are your favorite dove recipes? I hope you’ll try some of these new flavors this fall with your harvest and expand your dove cooking horizons!