Mathers Dove Hunt

Delicious Dove Recipes

After the hunt, turning your prized game into a delicious meal makes the day truly spectacular. Dove are some of the best wild game available in Texas, so finding ways to enjoy the spoils of a South Texas Dove Hunt is pretty easy. Dove can be grilled whole, chicken fried, wrapped in bacon, added to gumbo, and so much more! Like most game, they are best enjoyed medium rare or fully cooked to a fork tender morsel. Here are a few favorites that you can add to your hunt camp dinner options.

Hunters Tip – Delicious wild game starts in the field. Keep your birds cool while you hunt. Keep an ice pack in your dove chair if you can or at least keep them in the shade. Keeping the birds fresh and knowing how to prep the birds for the table is the key to a memorable wild game feast. The two ways to clean a white wing dove or mourning dove are pretty simple.

Whole Bird Prep – The whole bird method requires you pluck the bird. The feathers on a white-wing dove or mourning dove come off very easily. Take the time to pluck their body, legs, and neck. There is no consumable meat in their wings, so bird scissors will remove the head and wings with ease. Be sure to completely pluck the birds (except for the wings and head) before snipping the wings or you will have a difficult time plucking around the cut areas. The bird’s offal (guts) are removed by reaching in and pulling them out. With the head removed, you should be able to remove everything in the body cavity with ease. Don’t be bashful, the better you clean the bird, the tastier the meal. The neck portion of the bird will hold seeds and the bird’s craw, a tiny pouch that holds the seeds. Be sure to remove the little pouch as well. Rinse the birds out until it rinses clean. Once this is complete, place your birds in a bowl of water to allow them to rinse thoroughly. Your dove should look like tiny chickens from the store. This is the longer process of the two, but it is the author’s personal favorite.
Breasting the Bird – Breasting the bird is a quick method to remove the principal portion of the meat on a Dove – the breast. Dove are fliers and don’t do much walking. For this reason, their legs are on the small side, and many hunters choose to focus on the rich breast meat. This cleaning method saves time while not wasting any meat. The skin of a dove is thin and peels easily from the body. Take scissors and cut the bird at the belly below the breast. This will provide an opening where you can insert your fingers and peel the skin away from the bird. The breast is then removed from the body by taking the back of the bird in one hand and the breast of the bird in the other, like holding the bird in your hands while you pray. Both thumbs go into the cavity of the bird and the breast is separated from the body by pulling the breast away from the body, up to the head and pulling the two halves apart. This method is best learned from a fellow dove hunter. You are left with a skinned, whole dove breast without the plucking and the fuss. This tasty morsel will be placed in a bowl of water to allow them to rinse thoroughly.

Texas Dove Hunting Recipes

Paella de Palomitas (Dove Paella)

12” Cast Iron Skillet

7-8 whole Dove (skin on)

1 1/2C Arborio Rice

2 1/2C Chicken Stock

1Tbs Bacon Fat (Olive oil can substitute)

¼ C Whole Spanish Olives

1/3 C Sliced red bell peppers

1/3 C sliced onion

1 Tsp fresh Thyme

1 Tsp fresh flat parsley

12 saffron threads

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sofrito-

Diced red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion, garlic.  This is a finely diced even combination of these ingredients.  You will need about ½ C of sofrito for this recipe.    

Heat the cast iron skillet to frying heat.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  You will want to brown your dove in the bacon grease to season the pan and seal the birds.  Salt the birds well with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.  Brown them evenly in the pan, for about 15 minutes.  Remove the birds and begin your sofrito. Do not remove the oil from the birds. Take the diced sofrito and add them to the pan.  Once the sofrito is sautéed, add the rice.  You will want the rice to absorb the oil and flavors created in the skillet.  Let the rice brown until you can just see it take color.  Add the onion and bell pepper slices to the rice.  Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer the rice on high heat.  Add half of the thyme and parsley with some black pepper.  Add the saffron.  

 

Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes on a high simmer, stirring slightly.  Now place the birds back into the rice in a circular pattern, breast facing up.  Be sure that the rice is evenly distributed in the skillet and turn the heat down to a low simmer.  As the rice begins to thicken, add the olives evenly to the skillet and do not stir the rice after the birds are added.  Remove the skillet from the heat and complete the cooking in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Once you remove the skillet from the oven, let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Simple Grilled Whole Doves

15 breasted and de-boned dove breasts (30 pieces total)
10 large jalapenos
2 large red onions
5 large portobello mushrooms
1 pack of regular economy bacon
Brisket marinade
Toothpicks

Breast and de-bone the dove breasts.  Put the meat aside and prepare the veggies.  Take the jalapenos and de-seed and slice the jalapenos in three even strips.  For the red onions, you will also want to make large slices, like you would for a shish kabob.  One half onion should be divided in thirds to leave you large slices of onion to work with.  The portobello mushrooms should sliced in half and then each half in about 3 or four slices.  

 

Take the pack of bacon and slice the bacon pack in half.  A whole slice of bacon will likely be just too much bacon for one dove breast.  Also, I find the economy bacon wraps best and gives just enough protection to the dove breast during grilling.  Thicker bacon tends to take more time to cook and overpowers the recipe.  Now you are ready to assemble.  Lay out plenty of toothpicks and have your bacon ready.  Take your sliced veggies and your dove breasts and you can start to put it together.  Here is the tricky part.  You will want to stack your ingredients in this order: dove breast, onion, jalapeno, portobello slice.  

 

Wrap this all with a half slice of bacon and secure the bacon with the toothpick.  This creates quite a large bundle, so a second toothpick may be necessary.  Don’t wrap the bacon too tight as it will shrink during the cooking process.  With a bit of practice, you will be putting these together in no time.  Now that you have them assembled, you will want to marinate them in a standard brisket marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Get your grill hot enough to grill chicken.  Place the dove kabobs on the grill and let them sear for about 10 minutes on each side.  You will know they are done when the bacon looks crispy all around.  A fast sear for the bacon will keep the dove at a medium rare to medium and that is exactly what you will want to see.  Serve hot as an appetizer or as the main meal.

 

Simple Grilled Whole Doves

15 Whole Doves (Skin On)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper

My good friend, Chef Jesse Griffiths in Austin Texas, made this one night and helped me to remember the simplicity of grilling an already incredible wild game bird. If you have whole dove with the skin still on, you have got to try this. The key to this meal is to get the skin to brown a bit without overcooking the meat. The birds are small, so a hot sear that you would use for a steak is the ticket for pulling off this recipe. Simply bathe the birds in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Start them breast down. Once the birds are on the grill, leave them alone. Just like a good steak, you will want them to stay put for about 4 minutes on one breast, lean them over to the other for another 4 minutes, and then you can finish them off for about 8-10 minutes on their back.

Hot Fried Birds (taken from ‘Afield’, Chef Jesse Griffiths)

15 Whole Birds (Skin On)
1C Buttermilk
Kosher Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
2C AP Flour
Lard or oil for frying
3 TBS unsalted butter
4 TBS honey
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 TBS hot sauce
4 jalapenos finely sliced
¼ C fresh parsley

  1. Cut the birds in half lengthwise.
  2. Soak the birds in buttermilk for 4-12 hours in the refrigerator
  3. Remove from the buttermilk, season well with salt & Pepper, and dredge in the flour. Shake off the excess flour and refrigerate the birds for at least half an hour.
  4. Heat 4 inches of oil in a fryer or large pot to 375F.
  5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Mix the melted butter, honey, garlic, and hot sauce in a large bowl.
  6. Fry the birds in batches in the hot oil until holden brown and crisp, 3-34 minutes. Drain well on paper towels, brown paper bags, or a rack.
  7. Toss the fired birds with the melted butter mixture, add the jalapenos and herbs, and transfer to a plate. Serve immediately with cold beer.