Bacon Wrapped Dove with Figs – A Wild Game Delight

Dove hunters, this one is for you. Bacon Wrapped Dove with Figs is one great answer to the question: how do you make dove poppers taste fantastic?  

bacon wrapped dove with figs on white, floral pattern plates on wooden kitchen counter
Bacon wrapped dove with figs, plated and ready to serve. Yum!

The dove hunt is a major yearly event for our family. Several generations get together on our land for an all-day event. Of course, it’s a blast for my husband Scott and the other sport hunters in the family. But it’s also a social occasion that’s a lot of fun for the rest of us! From hunting to cleaning and cooking, teamwork rules. I’m happy to handle the cooking with some help from the kids.

A family dove hunt on the Mistletoe Plantation.
A dove hunt on our property, the Mistletoe Plantation.

I’ve experimented with many dove recipes over the years, including Pan Fried Dove to Dove Potstickers. Dove poppers or dove nuggets are always super popular, and this bacon wrapped dove with figs recipe is a new favorite version.

Tender dove meat, crispy bacon, and sweet figs create a harmonious blend of savory and sweet. You can serve this dish anytime, but I think the figs make it great for breakfast!

What is dove meat, and why should you serve it?

For those new to wild game cooking: dove meat, also known as squab, is a type of game meat that is gaining popularity among food enthusiasts. It is particularly the meat of young doves, known for its tender texture and delicate flavor. 

Dove meat is highly nutritious, packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. It is also a great source of lean protein, making it an ideal choice for those looking to incorporate more protein into their diet.

The Flavor Profile of Dove Meat

Dove meat has a delicate and slightly gamey flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. The meat itself is tender and moist, with a subtle sweetness that enhances the overall taste. When cooked correctly, dove meat becomes incredibly succulent, releasing its natural flavors and creating a delightful dining experience.

The flavor profile of dove meat is enhanced when combined with other ingredients, such as bacon and figs. The saltiness of the bacon complements the mildness of the dove meat, while the sweetness of the figs adds a delightful contrast. The result is a harmonious blend of flavors that will leave your taste buds singing.

Dove Meat Wrapped in Bacon: a Recipe Pairing Made in Heaven

Cooking with dove meat and other wild game has many benefits. Firstly, game meat is often leaner than meat from domesticated animals, making it a healthier choice. Separate from whatever ingredients you combine it with, wild game is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than grain-fed animals, making it a great option for those watching their dietary intake.

Secondly, game meat provides a unique and exciting flavor experience. The rich, earthy taste of wild game adds depth and complexity to dishes, elevating them to a whole new level.

One of the reasons that dove recipes often include pork, butter, cream cheese, and other rich ingredients is because people tend to overcook their doves. Now, I’m not saying that’s you, but if you are disappointed in the flavor of dove breast, here’s a tip. Dove tastes much better if you stop cooking at rare to medium-rare. So if you tend to grill doves to medium-well or well done, try this next time: cook one of them about half as long as you normally would. The flavor will be like two completely different doves.

But no matter how long you cook the dove, I’m all for adding a strip of bacon! It is going to add rich, smoky flavor. The flavor, texture, and sweetness of fresh or dried figs make this dish even better.

crispy bacon strips to illustrate flavor of bacon wrapped dove recipe
a fresh fig sliced in half, ready to add flavor to this dove recipe

The Versatility of Bacon Wrapped Dove with Figs

One of the great things about these dove poppers is their versatility. This dish can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a main course, or even as part of a charcuterie board. The combo of flavors and textures makes it a crowd pleaser for everything from casual get-togethers to formal dinners.

The dish can be served on its own, allowing the flavors to shine, or paired with a variety of side dishes. The choice is yours, and the possibilities are endless. Whether you add a simple salad or several accompaniments, bacon wrapped dove with figs is sure to impress.

Tips for Cooking Wild Game to Perfection

Cooking dove poppers such as this bacon-wrapped dove requires some special considerations to ensure the best results. Here are a few tips to help you cook dove meat and other wild game to perfection:

Proper Seasoning: Game meats have a mild flavor, so it’s important to season them well to enhance their taste. Use a combination of salt, pepper, and herbs to bring out the natural flavors of the meat.

Cooking Time: Game meats are leaner than traditional meats, so they cook faster. So just to emphasize, be mindful of the cooking time to avoid overcooking and drying out the meat. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness.

Resting Time: Allow game meat to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.

Pairing Flavors: Experiment with different flavor combinations to enhance the taste of game meats. Consider using ingredients like citrus, herbs, spices, and fruits to add complexity and balance to your dishes.

Where to Get Dove Meat and Fresh Figs

If you are not a dove hunter or close to one, sourcing this wild game meat may require a little effort, but the result is well worth it. Look for specialty butcher shops or online suppliers that offer a variety of game meats, including dove. They can provide you with high-quality, ethically sourced meat that meets your culinary needs.

As for the figs: note that fresh figs are perishable, so if you don’t have any in your area, you can substitute with dried figs, dates, or dried apricots. If you use the dried apricots, you could melt a little apricot jelly and baste the bacon with it while the dove poppers are cooking. Yum. 

Bacon wrapped dove with figs can be enjoyed on its own as a main course or served as an appetizer. Here are some serving suggestions and recommended side dishes to complement this decadent wild game delight:

As a Main Course: Serve the bacon-wrapped dove with figs alongside Rice Salad with Pineapples, Cucumbers, and Pecans. Add a side of sautéed greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard, or vegetables of your choice. Offer a basket of sliced No-Knead Artisan Bread.

Rice Salad with pecans and pineapple with mint leaves on white background in green dish
Pineapple, cucumber, green onion and mint give this dish a fresh, light flavor and texture that make it the perfect side dish.
Horizontal Picture of No Knead Artisan Bread
This no-knead artisan bread recipe makes homemade bread simple and delicious. You’ll never want storebought bread again!

As an Appetizer: Cut the bacon wrapped dove into bite-sized pieces and secure with toothpicks. Garnished the dove poppers with fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Pair with Baked Jalapeño Poppers and/or a fresh Herb Salad

On a Charcuterie Board: Include bacon wrapped dove with figs on a charcuterie board, alongside a selection of cured meats, cheeses, and artisan bread. Add some fig jam or honey for an extra touch of sweetness.

How to Make Bacon Wrapped Dove with Figs

Below is the recipe with step-by-step instructions to make these decadent dove poppers. By the way, don’t think you can’t make these just because you don’t have any dove on hand. This recipe will work with any kind of meat, even chicken.

Happy Cooking!

Crispy bacon wrap around dove poppers on a white plate with delicate floral design, other plates blurred in background.

Bacon Wrapped Dove with Figs

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

For the Marinade

  • 1 lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons) and the zest
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Dove Poppers

  • 12 dove breasts 24 halves
  • 12 medium jalapeno peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 figs halved
  • 1 pound bacon strips thinly cut

Instructions
 

  • Using a food processor, blend all the marinade ingredients. Place dove breasts into a zip top bag and pour the marinade mixture over the dove. Remove the air from the bag, seal it, and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  • With a meat mallet, pound the dove meat into a 3-inch x 4-inch rectangle.
  • Add about a teaspoon of cream cheese into the cavity of the halved jalapenos. Slice the fig to fit the width of the jalapeno’s cavity and place the fig on top of the cream cheese. Wrap stuffed jalapeno dove popper with bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick.
  • Get your grill hot with the coals on one side. Place the dove seam side down onto the grill over the side with the coals. Once the bacon is browned, move the popper to the side without the coals to finish cooking. When the pepper is easily pierced, your popper will be done.

Notes

Note: You can bake these poppers seam side down on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 25 minutes. You can also cook them on the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet: start with the poppers seam side down, turn them to get the bacon completely done on each side, and then turn the heat down and cook until done. 
If you don’t like cream cheese, you could always use mascarpone or even gouda. All are perfectly acceptable.
If you don’t have fresh figs (they are very perishable), then dried figs, dates, or dried apricots will work beautifully.
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