Many of us have experienced the horror that accompanies a bird barreling into a large window and snapping its neck. Not many of us look at the bird and say, "I bet that would grill up nicely with some smoked paprika."
Ryan Adams of Pflugerville, Texas falls firmly into the later camp. His Reddit post on the topic made a substantial splash even though he was quick to point out that many people, even in America, actually do enjoy the odd dove now and again. We got a chance to talk to Ryan earlier today and he filled us in on some of the details of his columbidae flavored exploits. For those of you who are squeamish about seeing food in its raw state, you may want to watch the video after the jump before proceeding.
For anyone not from the south, the prospect of eating doves might come as a bit of a shock. However, Ryan points out that Texas actually has a dove season and that the hunting of doves is actually incredibly popular with half million plus harvests on the books. But beyond that, he admits that he's a lover of strange eats including sous vide tongue steaks and calf brain from straight from the tube. He says he's largely been inspired by Fergus Henderson's "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating" which he's trying to cook his way through. He think it's silly that we avoid so many parts of the animal that can be eaten, "America used to be a lot less squeamish about the "nasty bits" but because of the changes in society and the abundance of food options we have, we've lost the mindset, "Use it all."" He also respects that there's a great deal of skill required to turn offal into something delicious. As he points out, anyone can figure out how to grill a steak but making liver or beef tendon palatable is no mean feat.
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Either way, lets get back to the dove. After checking to make sure the dove didn't have any sores or other indications of illness, he started the process of plucking his bird. He says that the doves have "paper thin" skin which requires a deft hand when plucking and that the process of cleaning this one bird took him the better part of two hours. Experienced pluckers should be able to clean a bird in minutes -- so clearly he has still needs some practice. After plucking he dressed the bird quickly by pulling out the insides and whacking the head and feet off.
After some research he decided to cook his dove La Mancha style which basically means stuffing it spices and then basting it in bacon fat. Which honestly sounds like a great plan no matter what animal you're trying to cook. He finished his La Mancha dove with some Spanish smoked paprika and promptly devoured it.
Was it any good though? According to Ryan, "Doves taste very much like chicken with a bit more iron." His experience was so positive he's asserted he's going to get a hunting license so he can take a more proactive approach to consumption.