The dove season opener is coming up next week, and although some of you take so many doves that it looks like you threw grenades up into the sky at passing flocks, there are some of us who occasionally strike out completely, or else manage to take only one or two doves.


Is it worth the drive, the ammo, the hours spent in the outdoors stalking, talking, sweating, waiting, complaining, and milling around cleaning up other hunters’ shells? For what – a dinner for one? I submit that it is most definitely worth it, and that dinner can be stretched to feed four or five on just a single dove or two. Not to mention, you can use this recipe to keep your dove dishes new and interesting.


We got to our spot too late last year on the opener on an especially hot day (even for the Yuma Desert), so I suspect we missed our window. We had a few hours in the morning, but couldn’t wait until sundown when we knew we’d get another shot at doves coming home to roost. So we breasted out the two we had, leaving one wing on should our take be inspected, and I started plotting how to make a special meal out of this organic, free-range, ethically-hunted duo.


Now for the recipe: it is the Dove-and-Mushroom Risotto from the beautiful field-to-table book Afield by Chef Jesse Griffiths. No big deal, he’s just won a James Beard award. So this day of small bounty was my chance to test out this recipe. See my blog post at on the risotto for more detailed, step-by-step instructions with pictures.


Gather your doves and the rest of your ingredients:

1 T olive oil
2 slices high-quality bacon, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups thinly-sliced mushroom
salt and pepper
1 C arborio rice
1/4 C white wine
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon

Heat the olive oil over M-H heat (I used an enameled Dutch oven) and cook the bacon until crispy, about 5 min.

Add the onion and mushroom and season with salt and pepper, cooking and stirring often for about 5 more minutes.

Add the rice to the pot and cook a couple minutes more, stirring and stirring, letting the rice become fragrant and toasty. Add the wine, and scraping the pan well, cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 2 min.

Add a large ladle of the reserved warm/hot dove stock from above to the pot and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock to the rice, a little bit at a time, waiting until it is absorbed before adding more, and until the rice is tender but not mushy, 20-25 minutes total. The rice should have a little bite left to it, and should be very saucy and slightly pourable, not dense. Adjust as necessary with additional stock; you may not need all of it.

Stir in the butter, cheese, lemon zest (don’t leave that out, it really makes the dish!), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately on warm plates.

DOUBLE the recipe to serve a family. And enjoy!


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