This recipe is a riff off the classic Italian steak Florentine — that’s the giant porterhouse steak, grilled over charcoal and served with really excellent salt, olive oil and a lemon wedge. Nothing more.
Doves are among the most delicious of game birds. They are exclusively seed eaters, so have a rich flavor with no “off” notes the way a wild duck that had been eating fish might have. If you are not a hunter, this recipe works fine with squab or pigeon.
Do your best to buy top-quality olive oil for this recipe: You only need a little, so it needs to stand out. I use a Sicilian olive oil from Frantoi Cutrera Segreto I get from my friend Scott over at The Sausage Debauchery.
This recipe is adjustable; figure on 2-4 doves per person, 1-2 squabs or 1 pigeon.
- 8 doves, 4 squab or 2 pigeons
- Fleur de sel or high-quality sea salt
- Top-quality olive oil
- 1-2 lemons, cut into wedges
- Take your birds out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Get your grill hot and scrape the grates down well. If you are using a broiler, turn it on and prepare your broiler pan by wrapping some foil on it.
- Paint the doves with olive oil and sprinkle some salt over them.
- Get a paper towel and some cheap vegetable oil and, using tongs, wipe down your grill grates or the foiled broiler pan.
- Grill your doves breast side up, or broil them breast side down, for 3-4 minutes over high heat with the lid closed. Up this to 5-6 minutes for squab or pigeon.
- Open the grill lid and turn your doves on their sides. Do the same if you are broiling. Let them sear for 1-2 minutes on each side. Now turn the birds over — breast down on the grill, breast up on the broiler — and cook until the skin is nice and crispy, about 2 minutes.
- Take the birds off the heat and arrange them on a platter breast up. Drizzle olive oil over them, squirt them with lemon juice and sprinkle a little more salt over them.
- Eat at once with a lusty red wine, like an Italian Chianti, French Cote du Rhone blend, Spanish Rioja or a California Merlot or Syrah.