My favorite part about the opening of hunting season is that I get to begin experimenting with new wild game recipes. But sometimes the best ideas and inspiration come at unexpected moments. While in Arkansas on a recent dove hunting weekend, my friend Jake Michael was in the kitchen chopping up some garlic and cleaning dove breasts. When I asked him what he was making he replied matter of factly: Dove Nuggets.
It couldn’t have been more simple, or more delicious, and I knew in that moment, as I popped a dove nugget into my mouth, that while we may not ever see these coming out of the drive-thru at McDonalds, I would always and forever be making dove nuggets in my home.
My friend Jake is a very intuitive cook, and as with most intuitive cooks he doesn’t write recipes down—he just has a general idea of how he wants things to go and then conveys that in general terms. But those cooks are sometimes the best kind—my grandmother was certainly that kind of cook. But, for those of you who want to try it, here is the recipe I put down after drawing the simple premise from Jake’s methods.
Give this a try, and be sure to share your favorite dove recipes with us in the comments.
20 to 30 dove breasts, removed from the bone
½ gallon milk
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce
6 gloves of garlic, minced
Vegetable oil for cooking
2 cups flour
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1. In a medium bowl, add the dove breasts and cover with the milk, eggs, Worcestershire, hot sauce and garlic. Cover in plastic and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
2. When ready to serve, heat vegetable oil in a skillet or pot, enough so that it fills the sides of the skillet by at least three inches.
3. In a medium bowl add flour, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir.
4. Remove one dove breast at a time from the milk with a slotted spoon and dip into the flour and breadcrumb mixture until it is uniformly covered.
5. Dip one side of the breast into the hot oil to see if it immediately sizzles. If it doesn’t, wait for the oil to get hotter, ideally 250 degrees F on a thermometer. Keep testing with the same dove breast until it sizzles, then add more breaded dove breasts, enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Once one side of the breast is golden brown, turn it over and cook the other side until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes total.
6. Cover a plate with paper towel. Remove the breasts from the pot with a fork or slotted spoon and place on the paper towel. Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Repeat until all of the dove breasts are cooked and serve immediately. Serve with your favorite barbecue dipping sauce.