This recipe is designed for doves or quail. You could probably try it, too, with “four and twenty blackbirds,” but we don’t encourage it. We first heard about the dish after a quail hunt in Louisiana. Christina Cooper, manager of marketing and Public Relations for the St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission, shared that she had an old family recipe, passed down from her grandmother, Mommie Ree Van Norman. Her dad saved it for her and sent it with a note wryly remarking that her grandmother “wasn’t much on seasoning.”
We gave Cooper’s recipe a try. Her dad was spot on. It was bland, but made a good starting point for some creative doctoring.
Here’s our adaptation.The biscuits were incredibly light and fluffy and did a good job soaking up some of that excellent broth/gravy that cooks with the birds. The meat was tender and flavorful.
8-10 dove breasts, deboned (into 16-20 pieces) Check carefully for fine pieces of shot.
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 big garlic cloves, chopped
5 or 6 mushrooms (white or baby 'Bellas)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasonings (optional, but highly recommended)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence (again, optional but recommended)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 dozen biscuits from your favorite biscuit mix, unbaked (we used Southern Biscuit Mix). Warning - canned biscuits won’t work in this recipe. They’ll get gummy and not bake properly.
Cook bacon in a large pan over medium heat until slightly crispy and rendering grease. Remove bacon and add dove meat, lightly browning on both sides. Remove dove meat and add 1 tablespoon oil or enough when combined with the bacon grease to leave 2 tablespoons fat in the pan. Add 2 tablespoons flour and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly to make a light to medium brown roux. This will take several minutes. Add vegetables and cook another couple minutes until they start to soften. Add the spices, if desired, and a little salt and pepper. Tread lightly - you can add more to taste toward the end of cooking. Add back the doves and bacon and stir in the broth. Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes, until the meat is tender, and the gravy is thick. If needed, remove the cover to let some liquid evaporate. You want to end up with a slightly thick gravy that doesn’t quite cover the meat. Finish seasoning to taste. While the doves are simmering, prepare the biscuits according to directions on package and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the meat mixture to almost boiling and ladle into a casserole dish. Use enough gravy so the meat is not quite submerged. Immediately place the unbaked biscuits on top. They should rest on the meat, not sink into the gravy. It’s important to have the meat and gravy very hot when the biscuits are added. Bake for 10 or 12 minutes at 450 degrees, until the biscuits are cooked and the tops browned. Serve immediately. Serves 2.