Doves are my usual bird for this recipe, but any small bird will work. Quail is a great choice, would a partridge or young pigeon. What to serve this with? Rice is nice, like a jambalaya or even just white rice. A salad is another good option, like a tomato salad or one with roasted red peppers. But mostly I just eat these as appetizers for a party.
Wash the doves and set aside at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
Pour the oil — I use canola or peanut or cheap olive oil — into a deep-fryer or heavy, high-sided pot like a Dutch oven. A fryer will have a fill line. Pour no more than 2/3 of a pot’s depth, and half is better. Don’t worry, you can reuse the oil. Heat the oil slowly, over medium heat, to 350°F. If you are using olive oil, keep it at 340°F.
Meanwhile, mix the flour or cornmeal and all the spices together in a bowl and coat the doves. Make sure you get it into the cavity, too.
When the oil is hot, drop in a couple doves at a time and let them fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning them to be sure they are golden brown all over. Let drain on a wire rack in an oven set to ‘warm.’ Serve with a bowl for the bones and give your guests plenty of napkins.