It has become a bit of a joke among those in my cattle ranching family that I have all manner of wild game on my supper table and rarely now do I serve steak. Above all else, I try to be practical, and because my husband is an enthusiastic hunter and fisher, I have had to learn to cook a wide range of beasts. My freezers are filled with meats that are wilder, leaner, and more ‘free range’ than anything you might pay top dollar for in a specialty market and I suppose I am very fortunate in that regard. I am no expert, and I plan on asking Santa for these books in order to improve my game cooking skills even more. I have read a bit by this author, Hank Shaw, and I can tell he’s the Real McCoy. Check him out on Instagram. He does things like roast grouse bits to make broth. It’s awesome.
Dove and other birds have a tendency to be dry, and the key to a dinner that doesn’t end up in the dog dish is keeping the meat moist. Dove is a rather small upland game bird and the way our family loves them cooked is in a foil packet on the barbecue. The foil keeps the moisture in, and the butter and herbs are a perfect compliment.
Arrange cleaned dove breasts (that look charmingly like stylized hearts) on 2 sheets of aluminum foil. Doubling the foil is critical; without it, a hole in the foil is likely and you will lose all your butter. Beneath and atop the dove, add slices of real butter, adding up to about ½ a tablespoon per breast, give or take, erring on the side of more.
This isn’t a recipe exactly because it depends on how many your hunter or grocer has available. I had 10 breasts in these photographs so I used about 5 tablespoons of butter.
Tuck 3-4 bay leaves beneath the butter, and sprinkle with rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper. Add a few more slices of butter on top for good measure.
Fold up the foil packet, and if possible, fold in such a way that you could open it up while still on the barbeque. I fold the top down the way you might hold a brown bag lunch, for example.
Cook on the barbecue, on medium high, for 10 minutes. Dove is done when the meat is not bloody, and darker in color. You might unfold your packet a bit to peek and perhaps retrieve a breast to slice open. Just don’t spill the butter!
Pour reserved butter into a dish for dipping pieces of meat into. Alternatively, you could use it to make a gravy, which I haven’t done but I’m sure would be delicious, or you could pour on top of accompanying potatoes or rice.
I’m always looking for more ways to cook wild game, Wildflowers, so please share your favorites in the comments below!