Properly handled and prepared, dove is excellent eating! Closer in taste and texture to beef than chicken, it is best served still pink in the middle. To quote Jase Robertson, “dove are the fillet mignon of the sky.”
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Research Agency’s website, “dove are the most hunted and the most harvested migratory game bird in North America. There are about 450 million birds in the continental population. The overall harvest in the U. S. is 45 million birds. In Tennessee, some 100,000 dove hunters harvest an estimated 2 million or more doves annually.”
Talk about a “renewable resource”…. at the present time, hunters are not keeping up with the reproduction rate of the mourning dove. A liberal limit of 15 birds per day in Tennessee is proof of their stability.
Tips for Handling and Preparing Dove:
-Clean dove and chill the meat as soon as reasonably possible. (Too often hunters put their bagged doves in an unventilated game vest, sit in the sweltering September sun, wait hours to clean their birds and then wonder why the meat has a strong taste.)
-In the field, keep doves in the shade, or even better in a cooler.
-Once the dove are clean, I like to place them in the refrigerator and let them sit overnight in a brine (salt water). A friend recently suggested adding sugar and pepper corns to the brine. I tried it with the last limit of doves with good results.
-For best results, prepare dove fresh before freezing.
-If freezing is needed, I like to place the dove in a zip lock back and then fill with water to reduce the chance for freezer burn.
-There are many good ways to cook dove. My favorite is wrapped in bacon and grilled to medium. This last batch of doves I experimented and cooked them like I would liver and onions. I de-boned the breast and cooked in a skillet with onions, salt and pepper and then served on rice. It was awesome!
Post and Pictures by Peter