September 7, 2009

Spiced Dove Breasts with Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Last night, I was catching up on all of my DVR'd episodes of The F-Word, and in one episode Gordon Ramsay goes pigeon hunting. He sears the boneless breasts then serves them on top of what he calls a summer vegetable casserole (pan roasted leeks, beets, asparagus, carrots, broad beans in a chicken stock/red wine vinegar reduction with pancetta, garlic & tarragon).  

And since I have a bunch of fresh dove breasts (and a few pigeons) in my fridge, I decided to give his recipe a try tonight.  But then...

As I was browsing the recipes archives at London's Channel 4 (Ramsay's British home base), I came across a more interesting recipe for wild bird...pigeon breasts marinated in yogurt & spices, served with a warm butternut squash & arugula salad.  I figured this would be the perfect dish to coax autumn out from under the rainy, humid weather we've been having.

After marinating for a few hours, the dove was very tender and really not gamey at all. We usually cook dove either dredged in flour and browned or wrapped in bacon and grilled, but I think I like this recipe the best.

Spiced Dove (and Pigeon) Breasts 
with Roast Butternut Squash Salad
slightly adapted from delicious magazine

Wild birds like pigeon & dove can be cooked briefly and eaten while they're still a little on the pink side.

Serves 4


  • 16 dove or 8 pigeon breasts (boneless)
  • 3 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (smoked, if possible)
  • 1 medium butternut squash 
  • 2 red onions
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • toasted pumpkin seeds, optional

1. Put the dove or pigeon breasts, yogurt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ginger, cumin, salt and paprika in a shallow ceramic dish and marinate for at least 2 hours (or preferably overnight).

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel the squash & cut in half lengthwise.  Discard the seeds and cut the squash into bite-sized cubes. Toss in the remaining olive oil and add a little salt & pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until slightly browned and crispy at the edges. 

3. Meanwhile, slice the red onions and toss in a bowl with the lemon juice and the olive oil. Season lightly. Gently mix the onion with the squash and arugula leaves to make a warm salad.

4. Heat the butter in a wide-bottomed frying pan and sear the dove breasts for about 2 minutes (3 minutes for pigeon breasts) on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Cut each breast in half on a bias and serve with the butternut salad and an extra drizzle of olive oil, if you like. 

Kelly's note: I added a sprinkle of toasted pumpkins seeds to my salad, too. I also left out the raw onion, but I think it would be good with some caramelized onions.


Little Ms Blogger said...

This post's timing is very bizarre for me.

My husband, sister and I were talking about dove hunting (he's a hunter) and I was stating that I'm happy he doesn't. He said he did and dove is very tasty. I didn't believe him.

Hmmmm...I guess I have to rethink my position.

Thanks for the butternut recipe, I have a couple that are ready to use and was hoping for some new recipes.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

We're big on pigeon and dove here, but we pluck all our birds. Doves and pigeons pluck very easily, and look great once "nekkid." Legs are the best part, even though they are small. Good on you for eating them!

Unknown said...

I'll definetly try this after our dove hunting this September in Nicaragua.