If you enjoyed some time in the field last dove season, you may still have a package of dove breasts you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Or perhaps you’ve just been holding out for one of those unhurried days when you can take your time to make something nice.
Like all wild game, a harvest of doves is something to be grateful for. When prepared with care, the tender breast meat is a delicacy to delight the palate. The following recipe for Dutch oven doves from my wife Elaine will make the best of that precious harvest.
• 15 whole dove breasts, filleted
• 1 celery stalk diced
• 1 onion diced
• 16 ounces of mushrooms
• 3 cloves fresh garlic pressed or minced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1 tsp rosemary
• 1 tsp sage
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 ½ cups water
• 6 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings
• 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Broth from Dutch oven
• 1 – 1½ cups Whole milk or Half-n-Half
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees.
Place filleted dove breasts evenly on bottom in the Dutch oven. Add vegetables, seasoning, herbs, fat and water on top. Heat for seven minutes on the stovetop using medium-high heat.
Place Dutch oven on middle rack of pre heated oven and cook for five hours or until doves are tender enough to be cut with a fork. Remove the doves and cover them with foil. Discard the bay leaf.
Carefully drain the broth into a medium bowl. You should have about 1½ to 2 cups of liquid. Add enough milk or half-n-half to the broth to make 3 cups total liquid.
Melt the fat in skillet on medium heat and slowly add the flour into it. Stir and mash the mixture around until you have a roux, or smooth paste, and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring constantly. The roux will foam up, then thin out and darken. Heat until the mixture is a medium to dark caramel color.
Remove the roux from the heat and add the broth and milk mixture, then stir well. Return to medium-high heat and stir until the mixture reaches desired thickness. Remove from heat and add the vegetables to the gravy.
Serve the mushroom gravy over pasta, and top each portion with doves.
Recipe and photos by Martin Perea, Videographer for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish