Cajun Dove Poppers!

Dove.  Its the first bird season to open, down here in the south, and it brings with it the opportunity I wait all summer for!  An appointment with my personal massage therapist: Mr. Browning Twelve Gauge.  He really knows how to work deep down into the shoulder tissue, and get those muscles from all angles…

Bringing his assistant, Sir Gunpowder Aromatherapy, it’s a time to re-connect with my surroundings and prepare for the coming months – as dove are only the beginning!
So – now that my shoulder is purple and I have 5 freezer bags of dove in my freezer, what am I to do with all of them?  Through the years I’ve tried quite a few techniques to cook these little guys, with varying levels of success.  They are a challenge because of their strong flavor, their size and meat texture.  You definitely need to add flavor and preserve moisture.  After spending an extended amount of time in South Louisiana, this Oklahoma girl has learned a new trick that I’d like to share with ya!
The secret:  Boudin.
For those of you unfamiliar with boidin, it is a cajun sausage, with rice and vegetables, stuffed into a hog casing and then poached, grilled or smoked.  It is absolutely delicious!  I prefer mine smoked, then grilled (for a crispy casing).   The version on my pictures may be available in grocery stores around the country… and while it is no where near close to the flavor of fresh LA boudin, it will do.
Back to the doves.
Many are familiar with, and love, dove poppers – cream cheese and jalepeno stuffed inside, bacon wrapped around the outside… grilled to perfection.  Its a wonderful way to cook them.  But, my time in cajun country got me to thinking… why not boudin in there?  So, that’s just what I did.
Here’s how you do it:
Cajun Dove Poppers:
10-12 dove
1 lb Bacon
1 lb Boudin
Remove individual dove breasts from the breastplate and butterfly each piece. If they’re too small, you may just have to cut them in half, and that is fine.
Remove the boudin from its casing.  Cut bacon slices in half.
Lay out a half of a slice of bacon, lay a butterflied dove breast on top, then take a small chunk (1-2 T) of boudin and squish it into a small pancake that will fit in the “sandwich” of dove meat.
Close it all up, wrap bacon around tightly (you can use another half slice if needed or desired) and secure with toothpick(s)
Grill at a medium to medium/low temperature
(or bake/broil) until the bacon is done.  Viola!
The fat from both the bacon and the boudin ensure there is plenty of moisture in the dove meat, and the flavors meld together perfectly.

PS – It hasn’t happened yet, but I know this will be a perfect technique for so many other types of game… I can see it with duck, goose, venison… the possibilities are endless!

– Prois Staffer, Leslie Crawford –