Well, we hit a local WMA field last Saturday in hopes of more dove and we’ve come to agree with the DNR agent Robert spoke with earlier in the week; all the birds are dead. We fought it out from 12-6 pm, endured a soaking 30 minute storm, baked in its aftermath like the dead corn stalks we stood in, and proudly walked out the field with 4 birds combined. When signing out of the DNR logbook, we were even top 3 on returns! Yes it was that grim.
Silver lining of the low bird harvest, was we had the perfect amount to test for aging. Aging is something we don’t normally practice, but I hope we incorporate on more this season. By keeping the birds intact, it allows the natural decomposition and break down to occur in the body resulting in a much fuller taste. Traditionally, they’re hung from the neck and stored in cool temperatures. Well, this is South Carolina in September, where it still reaches mid 90s with no notice, and as even a one-time dove hunter knows, those heads don’t always make it home. So I opted to lay our birds flat on a small baking sheet, and cover with another baking sheet + some rubber bands. This double pan contraption stood upright in the garage fridge (just make sure your birds are up and not down) since last Saturday (4 days total).
Arriving home today, I opened the outdoor garage, which has a weak plug connection we keep ignoring because it’s not our primary fridge. Well, yep, it unplugged for all day. The shelves were not fridge-cool. We agreed that meant our actual 4 day aging increased to results more aligned with a 7–10 day process. While breasting the 4 birds, we lost 1 due to the breast being overshot and pretty much lost through decay.Other than the abundant aromas, the meat looked and felt fantastic.
Aged dove breasts, deboned and left full**
Mushrooms of choice
Raspberry salad dressing
Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts
**I opted to score the silver skin membrane around the breast as well.
1. Add extra virgin olive oil to pan, preferable cast iron.
2. Cover bottom of pan with almonds or a nut of your choice and allow to heat and release oils.
3. Add raspberry dressing to a low simmer along with mushrooms
4. Then add whole aged dove breasts and continue to simmer. Cook to just barely a medium and remove birds only. Slice dove breasts into bite sized strips and let rest a minute or two.
5. Separately, combine mixture of brown sugar and cayenne pepper on roughly a 3:1 ratio but based to your taste. An extra dash of cinnamon is nice too.
6. Add sliced dove to your spice mixture bowl and gently toss.
7. Plate mushrooms, almonds, and dressing and serve dove on top.