Ask any group of dove hunters what their favorite recipe is, and chances are good that most of them are going to reply with “dove poppers.”
What is a dove popper you might ask? Variations abound, but the basic form is one side of a boneless dove breast, a slice of jalapeno pepper, a dollop of cream cheese, and a bit of sweet onion. All of this gets wrapped up in a slice of bacon and grilled or baked until the bacon is done. They are a traditional appetizer treat when the sun goes down on dove season openers everywhere.
When it comes to bacon for dove poppers, the thinner the better. Thick-cut bacon overpowers the flavor of the dove and takes too long to cook on the grill, often overcooking the dove meat in the process.
This is an easy recipe to play with. Common variations include brushing the poppers with BBQ sauce, using half of a fresh jalapeno instead of a jarred slice, and substituting Monterey Jack or some other cheese for the cream cheese.
Try this basic recipe, then customize it to fit your family’s taste.
4 to 6 dove breast halves per person
½-slice of bacon for each dove breast half
1 jar of sliced jalapenos
1 to 2 blocks of cream cheese
1 large sweet onion, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Season the dove breasts with salt, pepper and the garlic powder.
Assemble the dove poppers by spreading a thin layer of cream cheese over one side of the dove breast. Place a slice of pepper and a piece of onion over the cream cheese. Wrap everything with a ½-slice of bacon, securing the bacon with a toothpick. Try to keep bacon in a single layer around dove popper so that it fully cooks without overcooking dove breast.
Grill over hot coals for eight to 10 minutes, flipping often to avoid flare-ups from the bacon grease.
If you prefer to bake your dove poppers, slide a shallow pan with the prepared breasts into a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bacon is cooked crisp.
Kentucky native Michael Pendley has been hunting since he was old enough to say the word “rifle.” He’s been writing in the outdoor industry for the past 15 years, and his work has appeared in Field & Stream, Sporting Classics Daily, Modern Pioneer, Petersen’s Hunting and others, though he is perhaps best known for his “Timber 2 Table” column on Realtree.com. When he’s not in the kitchen whipping up something mouthwatering or sampling Kentucky’s fine bourbons, he, along with his wife and photographer, Cheryl, their daughter, Michaela, and their two sons, Hunter and Nathaniel (aka Potroast), along with their basset hound, Blanton, and bloodhound, Teddy, can be found traveling the country and enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer.