This weekend, my Deerslayer becomes a Whitewing slayer. It’s the beginning of Whitewing season in South Texas. Members of the Deerslayer Clan have converged on our neck-o’-the-woods from states near and far for this illustrious occasion. Our junior deerslayer and her cousins will be the master pluckers and gutters. Somebody’s gotta do it! It is truly an exciting time around here. Everyone in South Texas dons their camo. My fellow blogger, Andy at Tremendous Whatnot, is a fellow Texan and another avid bird slayer. His enthusiasm rivals my own Doveslayer. Check out his great bird stories!
Every year for as long as I can remember, it’s been unGodly hot and/or rainy and/or mosquitoey and/or humid around Labor Day. I can really see what the Deerslayers love about this season! But I love to see the family and, in preparation for their visit, I’ve thawed out the remnants of our frozen whitewing and cooked ’em up for the Clan after a hard day at the hunt.
I’d like to re-post Deerslayer’s favorite recipe (with better photos of the process) as well as the obligitory protocol for partaking of the feast.
Today, I need to share some crucial information about the preparation, cooking, and eating of game birds. Since game birds are shot, and since by their very nature they have very thin, brittle, hollow bones, one must be very careful to remove as many bone fragments and bits of shot (small b-b shaped things) from the meat as possible before cooking. Hunters generally are aware of the hazards associated with eating these birds and chew gingerly, daintily spitting out fragments as they go…. to which end I usually set out bowls around the table for this purpose.
Always inform your guests and/or family that they have been selected to share in the earth’s bounty provided by your game-bird slayer and that they need to chew carefully!
There are two main schools of thought regarding the preparation of doves. My experience has been that most bird hunters “breast out” the birds and bring home only the breast meat; small walnut-sized morsels to wrap in bacon with a sliver of jalapeno and toss on the grill. My dove-slayer, however, prefers ALL of the meat; breast, legs, hearts, gizzards. So does his uncle and so did his dad. I learned how to prepare doves from my hunter’s mother. Preparing them this way is somewhat labor intensive but I always have the undying gratitude of my dove-slayer.
Special Occasion Whitewing Doves with gravy
12 (or so) doves, plucked, washed
salt, pepper, garlic powder mix*
all purpose flour for dredging
1 stick salted butter
32 oz. chicken stock.
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Rinse birds and giblets. Spread out, breast side up on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper mix. Dredge each bird in flour.
In a cast iron skillet, melt butter. Add enough cooking oil to cover bottom of skillet.
Brown half of the birds, turning from one side of the breast to the other. Brown remaining birds and giblets reserving the skillet with browned bits.
Set aside all browned birds and giblets. To the browned bits in the skillet, over medium heat, melt enough butter and about 1/4 cup of leftover flour to make a roux.
Slowly whisk in about half of the chicken stock, stirring constantly.
Season with salt, pepper, and garlic mix. Add birds and giblets back into cast iron, breast side down and turned with the meaty side toward the outside. You can make several rows toward the center. This ensures uniform cooking.
Because birds vary in size, add more or less stock until birds are covered.
Cover with lid and bake in a 350° oven for about 4 hours. YES! 4 hours!!!!!!!! Every hour, add chicken stock if needed to keep gravy level up. You’ll know the birds are ready to eat when breast meat pulls easily away from the breastbone with a fork or tongs.
Serve with white rice and LeSeuer peas. In the tradition of the Deerslayer, it must be white rice! And it must be LeSeuer peas. Always has been! Always will be! Enjoy!