Hunting Season = Cooking Season
If you know me at all you know I am a hunter. You also know I am an eater. While I am currently working on my exercise units to food units ratio, which I will cover in a future post, the fact remains I love food. I love to cook it and I love to eat it. I especially love cooking and eating food that I have hunted and harvested. For me hunting is fun, but it is often hard work too. Sharing the bounty of my efforts afield with friends and family means the meal preparation and consumption is the culmination of a successful hunt. It is a celebration of my two favorite hobbies.
So you can experience the celebration too I wanted to share a couple of my favorite recipes for two of my favorite birds. Now I’m not gonna lie; neither of these are original recipes and while I still experiment occasionally these are my go to staples that never ever disappoint. Maybe this will turn into a series about cooking wild game but since dove season is in full swing and early teal season is upon us let’s start there.
It’s everyone’s favorite time of year. Time to shoot some birds! There’s simply nothing like a great dove hunt with some good friends and some cold beers (after the shooting is over of course). The only thing better than shooting dove is eating dove. Man, I love em!
Now this dove recipe is not going to be a surprise to anyone but I hope to give you a few twists, tips, and tricks that will improve the overall experience. Yep, this is the old stand-by stick a jalapeno and some cream cheese in the middle and wrap some bacon around the breast recipe, but even better. First thing I’m going to have you do is take all the meat off your cleaned dove breasts. Just stick a knife in there and slice the meat away from the breast bone. Don’t forget that little piece right up against the bone. I like to think of that as the dove tenderloin. You don’t want to leave it behind. This is a bit more time consuming on the front end but it will actually save you time in the end. Stay with me.
Now that you’ve removed all the meat from the bone, put it in a large container or a Ziploc bag and cover it with Italian salad dressing. I usually just use Kraft Zesty Italian. Now stick it in the fridge and let it marinate for 4 to 24 hours. The salad dressing imparts a nice flavor and also helps keep the lean dove meat from drying out as you cook it.
Remove the meat from the marinade and let it drain a bit on some paper towels. Grab a package of bacon, a brick of cream cheese, and a pile of fresh jalapenos. Notice I didn’t say to grab toothpicks? More on this later. Now, snag two or three pieces of the breast meat and stack it with some of the cream cheese and a slice of jalapeno and wrap the whole thing in half a slice of bacon and set it on a platter. Continue to do this until you’ve used up all the dove meat.
Once you’re done with that you will need to fetch your fish basket. What! You don’t have a fish basket? That’s ok. You can get one right here. Now you will see where you start saving time. The genius of the fish basket is that you don’t need to jack around trying to pin everything together with a bunch of toothpicks that keep poking under your cuticles and into your finger tips. You’re welcome!
Simply open up the fish basket, line your dove breasts in rows, close it up, and you’re ready for the grill. I stumbled upon this little trick several years ago because my little tiny wife can eat her weight in these dove poppers and no matter how many I threw on the grill she’d lick her lips and look at me with her big brown eyes and say, “Please, Sir, may I have some more?” There I was with my toothpicks and bloody fingers thinking, “Where in the hell is she putting all these things? There has to be a better way!” As I made my way through the utility room to get some hydrogen peroxide and a box of Band-Aids, I saw it. There it was right in front of my eyes all the while. The Fish Basket! Of Course! Why had I never thought of this before?
I can cook 30 dove poppers at a time with the turn of a single handle. And the best part is no stinkin’ toothpicks. I share this tip with everybody who will listen because it’s a total game changer. Enjoy.
Crispy Duck Stir Fry
I love teal. I love hunting them. There’s nothing like flock of 40 of the little speedsters bombing over the blind like a jet fighter to get your heart pumping. They are awesome little birds. And they’re good eating.
You’ve probably heard the old joke about the best way to cook a duck. If you haven’t I’ll enlighten you. Place the duck on a board. Put it in a roaster and cook it at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove the duck and board from the oven carefully. Throw the duck away and eat the board. While it’s pretty funny it’s simply not true. The fact is you can prepare your teal exactly as you did the dove poppers in the recipe above and you will be a very happy camper. However, I want to encourage you to try something a bit different. Don’t worry; this is a simple recipe and it’s a home run every time. Wait. You shot a limit of teal right? If not, I’ll wait while you get some more cuz you want 10 -12 breasts for this recipe.
First you will need to remove the breast meat from the breast bone and cut it into 2” pieces. Next season ¼ cup of flour with salt and pepper and coat the pieces of meat thoroughly with the flour mixture. Heat about 4 tbsp of cooking oil in a pan or wok and cook the duck over high heat until crispy and golden brown.
Remove the meat to some paper towels and let drain. Throw some chopped green onions into the pan for a couple of minutes and then add in 2 ½ cups of shredded cabbage. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is softened. Now, add the cooked teal back into the pan along with 8 oz of water chestnuts and ½ cup of unsalted cashews and let the whole concoction cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Finally, add in 3 to 4 tbsp of plum sauce and soy sauce to taste. Cook for another 2 minutes and serve over rice.
That’s it. I told you it was easy. It’s a fun dish to prepare and the best part is my kids devour it.
Let me know if you have some dove or teal recipes that you and your family love. I’m always up for trying new ways to prepare my favorite birds.