Instead of my normal fish-based Breaking it Down this week, we got something that flies. With dove hunting season just opened up, and having had a somewhat successful opening day, I got a couple of birds to fry. Most people usually just breast the birds out to use the breast for bacon-wrapped dove poppers, something I’ll hopefully cover in the coming weeks. This is definitely a bit more tedious of a cleaning process that is much more involved. But I do feel like it is rewarding, you get a a few more morsels of tasty meat, along with getting to enjoy the fat under the skin. So here’s how to pluck and clean a whole mourning dove along with a how-to on frying the whole birds, along with their gizzards.
Breaking it Down on OutdoorHub
The first step is to start plucking the bird. Start with the feathers along the belly, and use your index finger and thumb to kinda roll and pull the feathers out of the skin. Work over a bucket or a box to catch all the feathers as well, this will keep the mess down. Once you get all the feathers from the belly, move to the back and use the same technique. While the skin isn’t quail fragile it isn’t thick either, so be a little gentle and try not to tear the skin.
Once the body is mostly plucked, you can just grab and pull the tail feathers out all or a bunch at a time. The legs should also be plucked in the same manner as the body. The most difficult part to pluck is the wings, the feathers are more firmly planted in the skin, along with the wings being a little fiddly to work around. Take the primary feathers on the wings out first a few at a time. After which move onto the other feathers. If you don’t want to mess with them, just clip the wings with some kitchen shears, you’re not missing too much there.
Ok, now you got the naked bird, it’s time to time the appendages down. Using a good pair of kitchen shears clip the feet off at the ankle joint. For the wings, you can choose any joint of your choosing. I clipped off the wings partially due to shot damage mangling them. To remove the head, it’s like a folding motion with your thumbs placed right where the neck and body meet. As you fold the neck forward and pull, this will take the head and most of the crop out and off the bird. If there are any vertebrae left, just clean it up with the shears.
With a trimmed and plucked bird all that’s left is to gut the dove. Right above the anus, there’s a ridge right where the breastbone ends. That’s where you want to use your hand, shears, or knife to open the body cavity to scoop all the guts out. You can save the heart, liver, and gizzard to cook along with the dove, or just give them to your pets. For these two birds, the livers were pretty mangled so I tossed them. But the heart and gizzards were in good shape so they got saved.
The gizzards need to be split open and have the grit, food, and inner lining removed. So just cut them like an avocado, then pull the inner membrane out, then give them a rinse in cold water. Also, give the birds a rinse making sure to rinse the body cavity out well. Once done washing, pat the birds dry then store in the fridge till it’s time to cook.
Cook your Catch – Whole Fried Dove
- 2 – Doves
- 1/2 Corn Meal
- 2 tbsp AP Flour
- 2 tbsp Corn/Potato Starch
- 4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
- Frying Oil
Heat up your oil to 375F
Take a teaspoon of your creole seasoning and rub it onto and inside the birds and gizzards. Put them aside.
Put the corn meal, AP flour, starch, and seasoning in a bowl, then mix till blended. This is more than you need for two birds but, I just split it in half and stored half in the freezer for future use.
Dredge the doves in the fry blend, making sure to be generous with it inside and out.
Once you have them all dredged let the doves and gizzards sit a little, that way all the flour, corn meal, and starch start to hydrate and adhere to the skin better. The longer they sit, the better the crust will be.
Take the breaded doves and drop them two at a time in the fryer. You want to go in batches so it doesn’t drop the oil temp too much. If the oil temp drops too much, the doves will come out greasy. They will take about 4 minutes in the hot oil to cook through. Make sure to flip the doves in the oil as they fry for an ever cook. The gizzards will only take a minute or two so add them in last.
Once the doves are done, pull them from the oil and place them on a wire rack plate or paper towels to drain excess oil. After they drain a little, they are ready to serve.