Jody Horton

Carter Smith's Jalapeño Dove Poppers

Say the words “jalapeño dove poppers” to a hunter and you’ll see a smile spread from ear to ear. Just looking at a plateful—with crisp bacon wrapped around each meaty, pepper-spiked dove breast, cream cheese oozing decadently around the edges—will bring tears of joy to any Texas sportsman’s eyes.

15 whole plucked dove breasts

garlic salt

black pepper

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese

15 jalapeño slices, each slice halved (fresh or canned)

2 packages regular-sliced bacon, cut in half


With a paring knife, separate breasts from breastbones to make 30 lobes.

Sprinkle very lightly with garlic salt and pepper.

Take a breast lobe, some cream cheese, and a jalapeño slice and wrap in bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

Grill over mesquite, oak, or charcoal for 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and continue grilling until bacon is crisp.

Serves 8 to 10.

TAKE A TIP FROM CHEF JESSE: I like to pluck doves, not just take the breasts. You took the time to drive to the lease, so take some time to pluck a few doves while the sun goes down on your post-hunt celebration. While dove poppers like Carter’s are beloved, try stews, dumplings, pot pies or even frying them with a spicy glaze, like my Hot Fried Birds.