I’ve always thought of stews and stroganoff as comfort foods. They’re also excellent ways to stretch a small amount of meat, and sometimes that is needed when working with doves, which don’t carry a lot of meat anyway and have a way of making you miss so that a big mess of birds isn’t always a given.

I couldn’t decide whether this recipe is a stew or a stroganoff, so I call it both. It is easy, filling, and a little go a long way. Plus, much like elephant stew, if you have unexpected guests and there isn’t enough to go around, you can always add a little more chicken.

September is a tough month for deciding on just one recipe, because there is so much happening. But looking through the freezer, I found a few dove breasts I’d missed, and because dove hunting and Labor Day weekend are so much a part of many sportsman’s schedules, I decided to go with them.

Opening day of dove season is a special day when many young hunters get their first taste of the lifestyle. They often begin with a 20 gauge or .410 shotgun, standing beside their fathers, and they get to feel the excitement of watching doves rocking into range riding the wind, experience recoil, smell burning gunpowder, and if their aim is true, there are tasty feathered rockets for the family retriever to recover.

Opening day dove hunts in the Carolinas are almost like family reunions. There is a big meal at lunch that fits perfectly because birds typically don’t fly well during the middle of the day, making it a good time to take a break.

Barbecue appropriate to the region, with hushpuppies, slaw and sometimes fried chicken, is often the meal, and the meal is often so good and filling a short siesta is appropriate before returning to the field for the afternoon flights. Once you have some fresh dove breasts, this recipe should bring the same response. It’s good, filling and often leads to naps in a recliner while filtering television through closed eyelids. If the doves didn’t fly well, if your shooting was a little off, or if you’re trying to introduce someone with reservations to doves, you can always add more chicken. Enjoy. 

Dove stew/stroganoff

This is another recipe that began going in one direction and redefined itself. My penchant for combining things I like went on a rampage when a package didn’t have as many dove breasts as I thought, so it became necessary to stretch them a bit. Stew and stroganoff are both good ways to make a small quantity of meat go farther, but I couldn’t decide which I wanted to do, and it became a little of both, hence the name.

The primary meat for this is dove breasts. When filleted off the breast plate, they are delicious morsels and can be prepared in a variety of ways. If you don’t have enough for a meal, that’s when a variety of vegetables, egg noodles and even some other meats come into play. 

This recipe uses a mixture of dove breasts and chicken, but it is excellent with only dove breasts; however, it takes at least a dozen, with 15 to 18 being better. I buy large packages of chicken thighs when they go on sale, so this meal was finished out with a couple of thighs that were in the fridge. However, if you don’t have enough dove breasts and are adding chicken, feel free to use whatever pieces you have on hand. 

Regular readers know I have to create a little more robust flavor, and this recipe does that with the bacon and blackened seasoning. Bacon is occasionally used as a the beginning step for stews, but not stroganoff, and blackened seasoning is not normally associated with either. To help keep it healthy, I use a salt-free, blackened seasoning recipe I found online; you can use some of the numerous blackened seasonings in the spices section of most food stores.

Stew and stroganoff are both comfort foods, filling and easy to eat on a cool evening on the deck or patio, or at hunting or fishing camps. Simmering the egg noodles in the same pan allows the pasta to absorb some of the seasonings and spreads it evenly though the mixture. I think it helps this recipe work with less meat. Several times I have threatened to leave out the vegetables and simply add pasta to the meat and drippings.

I enjoy this recipe’s flavor of this and have a bad tendency to eat more than a single serving. I believe you will like it, and it is really easy to overeat, so be forewarned, a nap often follows.      

INGREDIENTS:

6 to 8 dove breasts

2 boneless chicken thighs

2 strips bacon

3 medium carrots

1 medium sweet onion

½ cup chopped mushrooms

1 small can sweet peas

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup chicken broth

8 ounces wide egg noodles

3 tbsp flour

½ cup sour cream

Blackened seasoning

Salt and pepper

PREPARATION:

Prepare egg noodles by directions on package. Fillet dove breasts from breast plate. Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Slice carrots. Chop onion coarsely. Cook bacon in deep, cast-iron pan. Remove the bacon and crumble it, but leave its grease in pan. Season dove and chicken lightly to medium with blackened seasoning. Sear, but don’t completely cook dove breasts and chicken in bacon grease and remove. Leave any drippings in pan.

Cut dove breasts into bite-sized pieces. Sizzle onions, mushrooms and carrots in drippings for a minute or two and remove. Leave any drippings in pan. Mix mushroom soup, chicken broth, sour cream and flour in cast-iron pan and heat to a light boil. Add meat and vegetables and cook on medium- to medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, Don’t let it boil hard. Reduce to low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in egg noodles and simmer 5 to 10 minutes on low. Season to personal preference — I like to sprinkle the top pretty heavily with black pepper. Serve hot.

While there is pasta with plenty of carbs and starch in this, a piece of your favorite hearty bread is a natural to accompany it. I like to add a green salad or lettuce wedge but prefer to eat it after the meal, like a dessert.