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.
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…
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.
Peppered Dove Breasts
- 1 pound dove breasts, from about 16 birds
- 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
- 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.
Andreas Sundgren says
Made this tonight with wood pigeons. Easy to forget just how good steak poivre is. This was very. very good. Thank you.
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.
Hank Shaw says
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.
Any thoughts on pheasant with this recipe? Would removing inner stip help?
Hank Shaw says
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.
Karl kortemeier says
Wow. I’m definitely going to use this one.
When using a bigger breasted bird like a partridge would you cut it up into smaller pieces for more surface area or leave whole?
Hank Shaw says
Jamie: I’d leave the skinned, deboned breast halves whole.
Sounds delicious. Now to find the pigeons – I assume they are the same thing?
Hank Shaw says
Anthea: No, they are not, but they are cousins. Same genus, different species.
Daniel K. says
Looks so amazing!
Mike McAllister says
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.