Small game birds and waterfowl, like dove, pigeon, quail, teal and wood ducks may not look like much of a meal but cooked right, this meat can be some of the finest eating on the planet.
One of the keys to great tasting meat is field care. Be sure to clean and cool birds as soon as possible.
There are plenty of preparations to cook these birds whole, many of them tasty with beautiful plate presentations, but the more I cook with them, the more I tend to separate the breast meat from the rest of the bird.
Breast meat cooks up quickly and can be served medium-rare and fork tender. Legs and thighs almost always benefit from a bit longer on the heat, low and slow. See my favorite way to cook up wild turkey legs as an example. For this post, I am focusing on the tender breast meat of the dove. Although this recipe can be adapted by substituting any of the other winged creatures mentioned above with equally delicious results.
BBQ Dove Sliders
- 4-6 dove breasts
- 1/2 cup sliced onion
- 1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon mustard
Soak breasts 24 hours in 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon salt. This step is not needed with younger birds as they can be cooked up within minutes of harvest.
Slice bird breasts into long, thin strips. In a skillet, sauté meat in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil 1-2 minutes or until no longer pink. Do not overcook. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add remaining olive oil to the skillet and sauté onion and pepper in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on medium high heat until soft. Remove from skillet and add remaining ingredients. Bring sauce to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Let sauce thicken 4-6 minutes. Add meat back to sauce to warm through. Serve on a toasted bun.
For those that like their meat more on the done side, cooking in the BBQ sauce will keep the meat moist. However, the longer it cooks, the tougher the meat may become.