By Michael Pendley
Poll a group of dove hunters about their favorite recipe for this small game bird and chances are good that some variation of the classic bacon-wrapped grilled or baked dove popper will come out the winner. Good answer, as dove poppers with a bit of cream cheese and a slice of jalapeno are delicious. But dove breasts are good for other recipes as well. Their rich flavor profile stands up well to a little spice and heat, making them perfect for this Mexican Cornbread Casserole. Baking the breast inside the casserole prevents the delicate breast meat from overcooking and drying out.
12-16 dove breast halves, skinned
2 cups coarse-ground yellow or white self-rising cornmeal
1 pound chorizo sausage, browned and crumbled
1 14-ounce can whole-kernel corn
1 14-ounce can cream-style corn
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
4 ounces diced green chile peppers
4 ounces diced jarred jalapeno peppers (or more if you like a bit more heat)
2 tablespoons lard, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups milk or buttermilk
1. Brown the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat. Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and allow the sausage to cool.
2. In a large bowl, blend the cornmeal, milk, beaten eggs, salt, melted lard, ½-can of creamed style corn, ½-can of whole kernel corn, and diced jalapeno peppers to form a batter.
3. Pour half of the cornbread batter into a greased 2-quart baking dish.
4. Sprinkle over the browned chorizo, half the shredded cheese, the diced green chile peppers, and the remaining corn of both types.
5. Layer the dove breast halves evenly over the dish.
6. Top the dish with the remaining cornbread batter, then sprinkle over the remaining shredded cheese.
7. Transfer the dish to a pre-heated, 350-degree oven and bake for 50-55 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out cleanly.
8. Cut into large squares to serve as a main course or smaller squares as an appetizer. Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.
Try Out More Recipes with NSSF’s Game Meat Cooking Series
Where hunter and classically trained chef Georgia Pellegrini shares recipes from her book, “Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time.”