Aug 21 2015

Birdie Bites Brighten Up Annual Fall Dove Hunting/Eating Season

This is the time of year, particularly in Texas, where hundreds of thousands of big and small; young and old; male and female; veterans and greenhorns alike take to the fields for a little dove hunting. Testing shooting skills in a family atmosphere, hopefully when summer temperatures have started to wain from the blazing hot days in August, is a September tradition in the Lone Star State.

As much as shooting the grey ghosts of fall is a major part of our hunting tradition, dining on the winged delights after a successful hunt is just as important to those who enjoy the bountiful wildlife available to outdoor enthusiasts.

There are some who have an aversion to doves, claiming the birds taste like chicken liver, but when properly prepared, dove meat can be quite a taste treat.

The following recipe is an old favorite published in my first outdoor cookbook, "The Campfire Chef: Old Boots and Bacon Grease," and will convert those who say they don't like the taste of doves. It was designed to tame the wild flavor of the birds, but unlike a common comment about wild game "tasting just like chicken," this dish let's your dining companions enjoy the unique flavor of well-prepared game.

If your dove hunt did not provide enough birds in the game bag, boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized cubes can be used as an appropriate substitute.

Here is the recipe:

Battered Birdie Bites
  • 30 boneless dove breast halves
  • Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups seasoned flour (I add about a tablespoon of Chef Ralph's to the flour)
  • 1 gallon peanut oil

Soak cleaned and deboned breast halves (from one limit of doves) in a bowl of cold water for about an hour, drain and place on paper towels to dry. Liberally sprinkle Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning on both sides of breast pieces. Pour buttermilk into a one-gallon resealable plastic bag and add seasoned breast pieces. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes. Place seasoned flour on a large plate. Roll marinated breast pieces, one at a time, in seasoned flour, coating all sides. Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees in a deep skillet or deep fryer. Carefully drop in battered breast halves and cook until golden brown. Serve with warm brandy apple sauce (melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add a small jar of apple butter, a cup of brandy and bring to a boil) as a dip or poured over the cooked bites.

Now, let's get cooking!