Grilled Doves with Blueberry BBQ Sauce
August 31, 2012 | Updated April 13, 2017
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Here in Northern California, two things happen at once: Huckleberries and blueberries come ripe, and dove season opens. Combining the two, by making a blueberry barbecue sauce to go with grilled doves, is a perfect Labor Day match. Grilling doves is the best way to cook them, bar none. Small birds need high heat to cook properly: You need temperatures in excess of 500°F to crisp the skin and still keep the meat pink inside. And yes, doves should be served medium. Think of them like steak or duck, only with little or no fat and much, much smaller.
This recipe works best with plucked, whole doves. Many dove hunters don’t pluck their birds, and this is a shame. It takes just a couple minutes to pluck them: Doves and pigeons pluck easier than any other game bird; it’s their loose feathers that bother your dog so much — they all come off in the dog’s mouth. I urge you to give it a go. (In this post, I go into plucking game birds extensively, and we have a video about how to pluck doves.)
Can this recipe work with skinned dove breasts? I honestly don’t know. If you try it, I’d be grateful if you share your experience back in the comments section below.
As for this barbecue sauce, it’s made of awesome. And huckleberries. I used evergreen huckleberries, Vaccinium ovatum, which are like purplish-black blueberries. You can use any huckleberries you want, or, if you live in the East, use blueberries. Even store-bought blueberries will work fine. Good luck everyone this dove season! May you hunt safely, shoot straight and eat well.
OTHER GREAT DOVE RECIPES
I have 25 dove recipes here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, ranging from Moroccan-inspired bacon-wrapped doves to dove poppers. Some great Labor Day grilling or barbecue options include:
- Doves la Mancha. An irresistible Spanish preparation that has become one of my signature dishes.
- Grilled doves Cajun style. Super easy with a Louisiana flair.
- Smoked doves bathed in a Mexican guajillo sauce. Rich and only moderately spicy.
- Grilled doves with an Arizona desert inspired barbecue sauce.
- Slow and low barbecued doves.
Blueberry Barbecue Sauce with Grilled Doves
- 12 to 16 doves, or 2 pounds chicken thighs
- Olive oil
BLUEBERRY or HUCKLEBERRY BBQ SAUCE
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups blueberries or huckleberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- Take the doves out of the fridge, salt them well and let them rest at room temperature while you make the sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook another minute. Mix in the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool a little. Pour it into a blender and puree. Be careful blending hot things, and keep your hand on the top of the blender; sometimes the steam can make it pop off. Wipe out the inside of the pot you cooked the sauce in and pour the pureed sauce back in. Keep warm over low heat.
- Coat the doves in the oil and get your grill fiercely hot. Grill the doves breast side up, with the cover down, over medium-high to high heat for 2 minutes. Lift the cover and paint them with the BBQ sauce. Cover the grill again and grill for another 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your doves. Remove to a platter and paint with a little more sauce. Let them rest for 5 minutes before eating.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
I did try this on dove breast. It had already been butchered his way, so I went with it. It turned out good. I did add about 4or 5 tablespoons of white sugar to the sauce. It was overly hot before I did. Would definitely recommend. I can chose not to rate since I changed it up a bit.
The sauce is awesome! & you’re right it’s great on pork too, (and I’m sure on anything else you’d normally put bbq sauce on).
Yum! And enough sauce left over to do a couple more batches of 6.
Made this recipe last night. Although (and don’t shoot me here) I did not make the sauce due to a lack of time so I used a locally made commercial barbecue sauce. Came out excellent!
I promise next time to leave enough prep time to make the sauce.
What Hank describes is not about “too much”. It’s about the “right amount”. An unknown qty of salt in salted butter plus what you need for every other ingredient is fluid. But unsalted butter allows for reproducibility. That is the hallmark of good cooking; reproducibility.
Hank, I have been able to reproduce your recipes; times many! Thanks!
yeah, too much salt is a common problem
Wronknee: One word: control. You cannot properly control the amount of salt in your cooking unless you add it all yourself. So you will never see salted butter in a (serious) restaurant kitchen, and I never use it for that reason, either.
It makes me laugh everytime I see a recipe calling for ‘unsalted butter’ followed by X amount of salt. What am I missing?