Friday, December 4, 2015

Eurasian Collared Dove - Sous Vide

Anshu Pathak of Exotic Meat Market provided me with a dozen Eurasian collard-doves that were shot by hunters in Arizona. 
This is 10 of the 12 doves. 
I've seen Eurasian collared-doves in the wild, in El Pinacate and Gran Desierto in northern Mexico, just below Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, but I've not ever dressed or cooked a dove, so I looked forward to learning more about them.  
Eurasian collard-dove in El Pinacate.
You can get a sense of the relative size of the dove from my hand. 
First, I watched a Youtube video by Holly Heyser on "How to pluck a dove." She goes step-by-step with how to do it, from where to start to pluck to cleaning out the muck. Apparently many people just use the breasts, but Holly advocates cleaning the entire bird. I tried following her directions on one bird, decided that some of the steps made no sense to me, and did my own modified version. In particular, the birds I had were still not completely thawed and her innards clean-out technique was not working. Plus, in thinking about how to cook the birds, I focused on grilled doves la mancha at, but decided that rather than roast them whole, I would cut them in half and cook them sous vide. By cutting them in half, I solved my innards clean-out problem and made it so that the sous vide would work better by eliminating the hollow cavity in the whole bird. 
I cut off the neck at the base, cut off the wing at the first joint and cut off the hind legs at the joint (the bottom of the hind legs on the above bird still need to be removed). 
The skin is bumpy and has a purplish tinge. 
After I'd plucked the birds, cut them in half and cleaned out the insides, I browned them in a frying pan with sunflower oil, salt and pepper. I did not want to over-cook them, so just did them long enough to do a little browning. 
Doves cut in half and cleaned.
Browning them in a frying pan.
Then I sprinkled on some sweet paprika, a little sage and then some bay leaves in the sous vide vacuum pack and cooked the doves for two hours at 60 degrees Celsius. 
Added ingredients, plus salt and pepper.
In the vacuum packed sous vide bag. Note the green bay leaves. 
The doves were certainly not under-cooked. I would consider dropping the temperature of the sous vide down some, perhaps even to 55 degrees. I would also consider cooking them a shorter time, perhaps just an hour or so. The sous vide worked from the standpoint of being able to cook quite a few doves in one packet. 
The final product. There is not a lot of meat, but it makes a very different and fun appetizer, or a meal if you have at least two birds per person. 
The final product was okay. They had a tiny bit of a livery taste and I would have liked them a little less cooked. I would also consider a stronger spice, perhaps a little jalapeno or cayenne pepper.