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Smoked Doves with Guajillo Sauce

Consider this a master recipe for smoking small birds. Doves, pigeons, teal, snipe, rails or quail will all work with this recipe. The sauce is something I like a lot, but you can use whatever sauce you'd like.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Brine Time12 hrs
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw


  • 16 to 20 doves, quail, snipe or sora rails, or 8 pigeons or teal
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 teaspoon Instacure No. 1 (optional)


  • 8 dried guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 to 6 hot chiles, such as arbol
  • Salt and lime juice to taste


  • Dissolve the salt and curing salt into the water and submerge the doves in it. Set this in the fridge for no less than 4 hours, and no more than 24 hours; I prefer 12 hours. Remove, rinse briefly and pat dry.
  • Get your smoker going to about 170F to 200F. Use whatever wood you like, but I prefer mesquite or oak. Smoke your doves for 2 hours, with smoke going the whole time.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pour boiling water over the dried chiles to rehydrate them. While this is happening, char the onion and garlic in a hot, dry skillet until you get some nice blackening. Peel the garlic and put it in a blender. Roughly chop the onion and put that in there, too.
  • Put the guajillo chiles and all the remaining ingredients into the blender and puree. Thin the sauce with some of the chile soaking water, lager beer or water. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lime.
  • You can either paint the doves with this sauce in the last hour of cooking, or you can remove the birds from the smoked, cut then in half with kitchen shears or a knife, and then bathe them in the sauce. Serve with plenty of napkins and a bone bowl. Watch out for birdshot!