Q: I am not a hardcore outdoorsman, but I do enjoy a little dove hunting when the time rolls around each year. Typically, I get invited to a friend’s lease a few times a season and, thankful that the group I hunt with pools our take, end up with two or three freezer bags of birds when it’s all said and done. The problem is that my dove preparation, which consists of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a grill, does not impress the missus. At all. Do you have a favorite dove recipe with which I could better please my wife?
John Carter, Austin
A: Texas is blessed with both the largest population of dove in the country and, unsurprisingly, the largest population of dove hunters in the country. As such, it makes sense that Texans would consume a lot of dove. Equipping oneself with a good go-to cooking method is important, so the Texanist is glad to hear from you, Mr. Carter.
The bird of peace’s most succulent pieces are the breasts, but that succulence is, alas, relative. While doves themselves are bountiful, the same cannot be said of their bosoms, which are unimpressive in both their size and, if the Texanist is going to be honest, overall toothsomeness. Au naturel, dove are small, a smidge gamy, and wholly unsatisfactory as a standalone entree. If you were to serve the Texanist a plate with five or six scrawny bits of salt and pepper-seasoned dove and nothing more, he would be left feeling about as excited as your wife.
Thankfully, the Texanist has one word for you that will guarantee a more pleasurable experience for both Mrs. Carter and yourself. One delicious, mouthwatering word. And that word is—drumroll, please—bacon. Really, what’s not enhanced by way of a good old-fashioned bacon wrapping? Over the years, it has been the Texanist’s gluttonous delight to have consumed bacon-wrapped shrimp, bacon-wrapped asparagus, bacon-wrapped dates, and prosciutto-wrapped melon (The Texanist thinks of prosciutto as a type of Europeanized bacon). He is particularly fond of bacon-wrapped hot dogs, which are known colloquially in various locales as danger dogs, Mission dogs, Tijuana dogs, and when stuffed with cheese, francheezies or Texas Tommies. The Texanist has also heard them referred to as gout dogs.
And then there’s bacon-wrapped jalapenos, which are good, and bacon-wrapped jalapenos with cheese, which are delicious. Hey, the mention of bacon-wrapped jalapenos and cheese, in addition to making his mouth water, has reminded the Texanist that he was supposed to be working on an answer to an important question. Where were we? Ah, yes, dove. And jalapeno. And cheese. Wrapped in bacon.
Say hello to the Texanist’s World-Famous Dove Poppers.
What you’ll need:
- Mylanta (optional)
How to do it:
- Take the jalapeño (the official state pepper of Texas) and slice it in two, lengthwise. Give it a rinse.
- Take a dove breast (the unofficial migratory game bird breast of Texas) and cut in half, lengthwise.
- Give these pieces the Carter treatment: olive oil, salt, pepper. Maybe a dusting of garlic powder, too.
- Cut the cheese (rimshot) into lengths similar to the jalapeño and dove. (The Texanist prefers Mexican cheese and has good results with queso fresco, queso blanco, queso cotija, queso Oaxaca, and has even used queso crema.)
- Combine the dove, the jalapeño, and the cheese, and wrap tightly with a half-slice of bacon, securing it with a tequila-soaked toothpick.
- Repeat until there is no more dove.
- Throw on a grill for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until bacon is sizzling and crispy.
- Gobble ‘em all up, washed down with the libation of your choice.
Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to augment the poppers with an entrée of juicy ribeye, sided with the sides of your choosing. The grill’s already hot, so might as well, right?
Bon appétit, Carters.
Now that’s a recipe that will not only satisfy the missus, but will, the Texanist bets, have her begging for more.
And please remember to stay safe, mind your bag and possession limits, and know your dove before you blast them out of the sky—the common ground dove, Inca dove, and band-tailed pigeon are off limits. Happy hunting. And happy eating.
Have a question for the Texanist? He’s always available at [email protected] Write to him there and be sure to tell him where you’re from.