I’ve said for years that grilling doves is the best way to cook them. I might be wrong. Slow and low barbecued doves may just be better.
For many, the Labor Day weekend means dove hunting and doves cooked outdoors. September 1 is the traditional opening of dove season everywhere there is one, and grilled doves or dove poppers are traditional fare.
But slow and low, real-deal barbecue? Even I never thought of it, until recently.
What got me thinking is the new smoker I have been using. It’s less of a grill and more of a smoker and barbecue pit extraordinaire. I’ve been slow barbecuing all kinds of thing on it, and I love how easy it is to get really good results. So why not doves?
Why not indeed. The technique is stupid easy: Salt your doves as they come out of the fridge, paint once with the barbecue sauce of your choice, then stick them in a covered grill away from direct heat. Cover the grill and shoot for a temperature of about 200°F. Hold this for about an hour to 90 minutes. Paint with your BBQ sauce several times in this process.
Take your barbecued doves out, slather once more and get after it!
What sauce to use? Really any barbecue sauce you want. I used a Korean BBQ sauce here, and it works really well. It has a couple semi-unusual ingredients, but nothing I can’t find at my local supermarket. The “weirdest” thing is the gochujang, the Korean chile paste. You can buy gochujang online, however.
The biggest difference between barbecued doves and grilled ones is tenderness. The slow and low technique produces the most tender birds I’ve ever eaten. And if you cook them slow enough, you get that cool smoke ring you see in barbecued brisket. Tender, smokey, sticky-spicy-sweet. You will absolutely eat more doves than you think possible with this recipe.
I guarantee it.
Barbecued Doves with Korean BBQ Sauce
- 16 to 20 doves, preferably whole and plucked
KOREAN BBQ SAUCE
- 1/4 cup Korean gochujang chile paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup lime juice or rice vinegar
- Mix all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce together in a blender and puree until smooth. This can be made up to a week in advance. You might want to double the recipe, as it's amazing and goes well on any grilled or barbecued food.
- Salt the doves well, inside and out. Paint with the BBQ sauce. Get your grill ready, making a spot where there are no coals so you can cook over indirect heat. You want a smokey fire, so have some wood chips handy. If you're using a smoker, set it to 200F.
- Set the doves breast side up in the grill, cover it and cook slowly until the legs will come off easily when pulled, anywhere from 1 hour to 90 minutes. Paint with the BBQ sauce every 30 minutes or so.