Ask almost any serious bird hunter how they like to prepare dove and you’ll receive an enthusiastic response and their go-to recipe — one that inevitably includes bacon.
No, there’s nothing wrong with bacon. Wrapping almost any protein with a thick slice never fails to yield a tasty bite.
Yet, I wondered, could we go beyond bacon?
These ingredients are easy to come by whether you’re cooking in a sparsely appointed hunting camp, or your own well-stocked home kitchen. The magic to achieving moist, flavorful dove lies in the brine. A second soak in buttermilk seals the deal.
After a light coating of seasoned flour, the dove are fried to crispy golden perfection. Choosing to serve the hot sauce syrup drizzled over the entire plate or kept separate as a dipping sauce is entirely up to you. Whatever you do, save the bacon for breakfast.
Better When Brined
Wild game meat is considerably leaner than the cuts most home cooks are accustomed to preparing. Soaking the dove breasts for several hours in a brine results in moist, flavorful meat, preventing even the most novice chef from serving dry, tough birds. Don’t take my word for it, just see how quickly these fried dove breasts fly off the plate.
12 whole dove breasts, cleaned and inspected for shot
Brining spices, see below
1 cup buttermilk
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
Oil for frying
cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
cup agave syrup
Brine: Combine two sprigs fresh rosemary with cup each of salt, black pepper and brown sugar. Fill a large bowl or food-safe container with 1 gallon of water and stir in spices. Add the dove breasts. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.
Remove the breasts from the brine and separate breasts from the bone. Pat each dry and chop into smaller pieces. Soak breast pieces in buttermilk for an hour.
Heat 4 inches of oil to 375 F in a large pot.
Combine freshly ground pepper and flour in a shallow pan. Remove the birds from the buttermilk and dredge in flour.
Shake off the excess flour and fry the birds in small batches until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
Whisk together hot sauce and agave syrup in a small bowl.
Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with herbs. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.