ranch life · Recipes

What it sounds like when doves (and me) cry…

My husband loves to bird hunt. Of all the outdoor activities he enjoys, I’ve heard him put bird hunting at the top of the list consistently for the last few years. Now, you do have to break down bird hunting into dove, quail, crane, etc. I’m not sure what the order of love is once we break down bird hunting, but I know he loves all of them. Part of the purpose in getting Ruger and Gump was to train them to be bird dogs since Steven loves bird hunting so much.

This year we live the furthest away we ever have from his family land that he typically hunts on, and when you combine that with this rigorous first year resident schedule, he has not gotten to hunt nearly as much as he would prefer given that dove season has been open for over a month. So, when he came home earlier this week reporting that one of the GI fellows asked if he wanted to go dove hunting this past Saturday, I could tell he was super pumped to be able to take one of his rare days off to do something he truly enjoys.

He woke up with a spring in his step at 4 AM (I don’t think I could even convince my eyeballs to open at that point. Our sleep has been all thrown off since Gump has arrived) and left out about 5 AM so that he and his new friend could hit the road. We had discussed eating whatever he brought home for dinner that night, so I researched recipes for dove during the day while he was gone.


He came home that afternoon with 11 dove (that were thankfully already cleaned). We decided to have them with jalapeños, cream cheese, and bacon, which is a first for us, but has been recommended to us by many.

We started by soaking the dove in salt water to get any remaining blood/ feathers out. I took pictures and Steven actually did this part so I wouldn’t gag and hurl all over the kitchen. I think it’s really awesome to have dinner this fresh, but I do have my limits, friends.

They soaked for a few hours in the fridge, and then Steven started halving and deboning them while I sliced and cored the jalapeños.

This is where I went so, so, so wrong, friends. What you don’t see in these pictures is me standing by our kitchen trash can pulling out jalapeño membranes and seeds with my bare stinkin’ hands. And at one point, from several feet away at the sink, Steven commented that the peppers smelled really hot (spicy). The last batch I got from HEB was pretty hot, pretty much to the point that we couldn’t eat them. I didn’t think much about it, and went on with my job.

Once they were all cleaned, we started the assembly process. I used plain whipped cream cheese to fill each pepper.


Then Steven laid a dove breast on top.


And then wrapped a slice of bacon around the pepper. You can use a toothpick to secure it, but I never have an issue with the bacon sliding off. I think it’s because we use so much bacon. (And the HEB Applewood smoked bacon is the BEST!)


We also use the same process for plain stuffed jalapeños, which we love. We had a pan of about 8 with dove breasts and the rest were plain. This was just a jalapeño fest kind of night. (We did boil corn on the cob just to add a vegetable.)

You can grill these, but we found with the plain stuffed peppers that we actually like them better cooked in the oven because the bacon gets crispier. We were loosely following a recipe in the Perini Ranch cookbook, which says to bake at 350* for 50 minutes.

Friends, it was during this time that I didn’t know if I would make it with my sight to see the finished product. I feel like I should iterate that I washed my hands during this time at least 5-10 times. Once was a real scrub with dish soap. At some point, I guess I had touched my upper lip with my hand and it began to burn, but I thought this was more related to how often I’d blown my nose in the last few days due to a cold/ allergies. So, I went to take my contacts out and look for some vaseline.

When my finger first touched my right eye, it lit on fire with the burning of a thousand suns. Luckily, I actually got my contact out, and then proceeded to try to flush my eye out as it burned like white-hot hell fire and watered.

And the worst part? I still had another contact to go. And now I knew what it was going to be like.

I thought maybe my ring finger or pinky wouldn’t have as much jalapeño residue on them, so I tried to use them to get to it, but it burned immediately after touching my eye, and only moved my contact instead of actually getting it out. I had a cold wet washcloth on both of my eyes as I knelt to the bathroom floor, pathetically calling for my husband.

When he arrived, I informed him of the current situation, and asked if he could get my other contact out. Because I seriously thought I might die if I had to touch my other eye. If you have never experienced pain such as this, just take my word that it is excruciating, and don’t find out for yourself.

He looked in my eye, and asked where my contact was. I tried to keep my eye open long enough for him to get it out, but I kept blinking and flinching and crying, making it kind of impossible for him to help. I think this was about the time he gave me a hug and told me I was going to have to get it out myself because he couldn’t get it.

And I did. With many tears. And snot. Steven stood near me, sympathetically patting me on the back and laughing at me. Because really, it was pretty funny. And awful.

I didn’t find any vaseline, so I put face moisturizer on a q-tip to put under my nose, and made it back out to the kitchen.

After 50 minutes, both sets of peppers looked really good. We each took one of each to start.

I took one bite of one of mine and was immediately out. They were so beyond spicy I couldn’t stand anymore. The flavor was so good! But I was so not man enough to handle anymore. I pulled my dove breast out and ate it with some of the bacon, but I didn’t have any more peppers. Steven managed to eat like five or six somehow, so this really is a great recipe, as long as your peppers aren’t unbearably hot for your tastes.

And another disclaimer- apparently you have to watch for BBs when you are eating dove. Steven nearly cracked a tooth on one, but was able to get it out before really biting down on it (so check your bite of dove before you chow down).

Here we are almost 24 hours later, and it still burns my tongue when I touch my finger to it. I tried to pull some sleep out of my eye earlier in the shower and almost disintegrated to a shower puddle. I’ve probably washed my hands 20 times or more by now, so we’ll see how long this lingers. I may be wearing my glasses for the next several days. If you are a Temple dwelling person and you see me about town this weekend, please don’t despair at my current appearance. It is a combination of not being able to touch my eyes, and this snotty cold/allergy thing I’ve got going on. It’s really cute, y’all.

So, the moral of this story is that I need to figure out how to buy non-spicy peppers, and I’m wearing gloves in the kitchen from now on. Any tips for pepper buying are appreciated!

In other news, we’ve been keeping an eye on our fur-nephew Drover while his parents’ are in Denver/ Estes Park the last couple days. He has been playing with ours like he’s their third brother. Here’s a little Ruger, Drover, and Gump action for you…


My little guy tried to keep up with the big boys, but he can only go for so long…


Drover is a Blue Lacy and was purchased from Pecan Peak Ranch in Zephyr, TX. Isn’t he pretty?? I had never heard of the Blue Lacy breed until my brother-in-law was researching breeders. They are bred to track wounded animals and help hunt game.



Hope y’all are having a good weekend! If anyone has any stellar dove recipes they want to share, let me know! We still have several more in the freezer, and we like to be creative! 🙂

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