This is a basic Southern tomato gravy recipe inspired by the book Victuals, which I highly recommend. You can vary it in many ways I mention above, and serve it with most meats, fish or with a starch such as grits, biscuits or rice.
1 to 2tablespoonssorghum or maple syrup, or light molasses
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1pounddove breasts (from about 16 doves or so),other some other meat
Salt or Cavender's Seasoning
2eggs, lightly beaten
1sleeveSaltines, crushed to resemble breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
MAKE THE GRAVY
In a large skillet, ideally cast iron, cook the bacon slowly until crispy. Remove the bacon. Eat two pieces. Chop the remaining pieces. Leave about 3 or 4 tablespoons bacon fat in the pan.
Add the onion and cook over medium heat until it softens, about 5 to 10 minutes. Take your time. Sprinkle the cornmeal or flour over everything and stir this in. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
Pour in the can of tomatoes with their juices. If you're using fresh tomatoes, chop them up well beforehand, reserving as much of the juices as possible. I seed them, but you don't have to. Drizzle over the syrup, too.
Stir this all in and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes basically dissolve, about 20 to 30 minutes. I cover the pan while cooking, otherwise you might need to add a little bit of water to get it right: You want the gravy to be a bit thicker than Thanksgiving gravy, and a bit chunky. If this bothers you, puree it in a blender.
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Smoked salt is a good call here, and you want a lot of pepper, as it's part of what makes this gravy so good. Keep warm while you make the doves.
FRY THE DOVES
I like to put the dove breasts, one by one, in a freezer bag and pound them out flat with a rubber mallet, but you don't need to; they cook better my way, but it is an extra step. Salt them well, or dust with Cavender's seasoning, or Cajun seasoning.
Set up a breading station. Put the flour in a bowl and season it with a tablespoon or so of Cavender's or salt. In the next bowl, mix the buttermilk and the beaten eggs, and thin it out with about a tablespoon of water. Now put the pulverized Saltines in a plastic bag.
Get oil nice and hot in a large skillet. You're looking for about 350F. Flour a few dove breasts, dredge in the egg mixture, then toss to coat in the mashed saltines. Do about 4 or 5 breasts at a shot and make sure they nicely coated.
Fry in the oil about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set aside while you finish the rest. Top with tomato gravy and serve with grits, biscuits, cornmeal or rice.
NOTE:You can do this same thing with country fried steak, chicken, duck or goose, venison or pork. You want the cutlets pounded to about 1/4-inch thick or less.