Peppered Dove Breasts

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When you’ve eaten enough dove poppers at the beginning of dove season, this simple dove breast recipe will open your eyes to a whole new realm of flavors — and, it’s easier to make than poppers.

A plate of peppered doves, a simple dove breast recipe.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

What I want in a dove breast recipe is something simple, fast and tasty. Peppered doves touches all those bases.

Dove breasts, seared quickly in butter, followed by an easy pan sauce of shallots, brandy, stock, cream and peppercorns.

If this sounds familiar it’s because it is: This is doves au poivre, a riff of the French classic. I have a proper recipe for steak au poivre elsewhere on this site.

Everything in this recipe should be at your local supermarket, except for the doves, which you will have to hunt. The only “weird” ingredient is green peppercorns, but I see them in little jars near the capers a lot.

Worst case scenario you can buy green peppercorns online. Or skip them.

You will want freshly ground black pepper, however, because pepper is the dominant flavor in this dove breast recipe. It is peppered dove, after all — and I am not making a shotgun reference here, although it would be a good dad joke…

Dove breasts au poivre on a plate with a glass of wine.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Searing the doves is optional, but I like the little bit of Maillard reaction so I do it. Sear only one side of the dove breasts in a very hot pan, then move them to a plate to rest while you finish the sauce. Then swirl them around at the end to cook through.

Another tip is to keep the dove breasts cold before they hit the hot pan. This keeps the dove breasts pink inside, which is how you want to eat them.

To that end, this need not simply be a dove breast recipe: This exact same technique works with any small bird breast: quail, ptarmigan, grouse, chukar, Hungarian partridge, snipe, woodcock and rails. Even teal and ruddy duck breasts would work well.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

Dove breasts au poivre on a plate with a glass of wine.
5 from 13 votes

Peppered Dove Breasts

While I do this with doves, there's no reason you can't use the breasts off any bird from grouse size on down. Non hunters would want to use quail or Cornish game hen breasts.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound dove breasts, from about 16 birds
  • salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup brandy, or sherry or Madeira or Marsala
  • 1/2 cup low sodium stock, or glace de viande
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons green peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions 

  • Salt the dove breasts well and keep them in the fridge until the last minute. Heat up 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pan over medium-high heat.
  • When it's hot, sear the dove breasts for 2 minutes, only on one side. Move them to a plate to rest while you make the sauce.
  • Add the minced shallot to the pan and sauté until soft and slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Let this boil 1 minute.
  • Pour in the stock, black pepper and green peppercorns, and boil it all furiously until cooked down by half, about 2 minutes.
  • Return the dove breasts, uncooked sides down, to the pan and swirl in the cream. As soon as the cream starts bubbling, drop the heat to low. Swirl it all to combine. Add the final tablespoon of butter to the center of the pan and swirl until it melts and combines with the sauce. Serve with bread or potatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 366kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 379mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 642IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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14 Comments

  1. This dove au poivre recipe hits the spot for me. Serve with twice cooked pomme frites (french fries) and you’re in a bistro.

  2. My husband said he thought this was the best thing he’d ever eaten. On a different level. Plan to try with teal breast as well. Always know you’ll have a good recipe Hank—Thanks!

  3. Made this tonight with wood pigeons. Easy to forget just how good steak poivre is. This was very. very good. Thank you.

  4. Due to medical condition, all meat I consume must reach an internal temp of 165. Pesky little bugs. Medium rare steaks and sushi are no longer part of my life. So Hank, any chance every once in a while you can throw folks like me a bone and have a great tasting recipe with fully cooked game meat? Can’t do stews or soups in the summer time. But I did a great mallard congee recently. Just asking if maybe you could.

    1. Rob: Look to Chinese stir fries. Everything in China is fully cooked. And with this recipe, simply cook the dove breasts a bit longer, that’s all. That advice holds true with everything, actually. What I cook meat to is what I like. Cooking it more is simple.

    1. Dick: They are a big big for this, but if you know how to cook a pheasant breast in a pan, I can tell you this sauce will work very well with them. It’s just the initial cook that would be different.

  5. When using a bigger breasted bird like a partridge would you cut it up into smaller pieces for more surface area or leave whole?

  6. We made this for breakfast this morning from breast we have vacuum sealed last season. This was soooo good with scrambled eggs. The creamy sauce went perfectly with the eggs and toast. Can’t wait for real season, this will be fantastic.