The Wild Table

A comprehensive guide to perfectly cooked waterfowl

 

Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated by Hank Shaw, $25

 

Food & Entertaining | October 2013

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Many cooks – and even hunters – are intimidated to cook waterfowl at home. Yet ducks and geese are having a renaissance in American restaurants and kitchens as cooks discover that these diverse breeds, species and cuts of meat offer an endless range of flavors and textures and a compelling alternative to everyday chicken. 

Hank Shaw, an award winning food writer, hunter and cook, provides everything the home cook or even professional chef would need to know about preparing waterfowl in his comprehensive and beautifully photographed new book, Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated. Shaw covers the full range of skills needed to participate in this marsh to table revolution, from obtaining these flavorful birds to cleaning and cooking them. 

He also gives each recipe a difficulty rating and suggested prep and cooking times, to help readers find the dishes that best fit their skill level. Recipes include accessible basics for first time home cooks such as Grilled Duck Breast and Slow Roasted Duck, as well as celebrated and familiar dishes such as Sichuan Fragrant Duck, Cassoulet and Perfect Roast Goose. In his quest to use the whole bird, Shaw also offers us unexpected and clever dishes, such as Duck Fat Hollandaise, Crispy Duck Tongue and Duck Egg Pasta. Last, there’s an extensive section on duck and goose confit and charcuterie, from fresh sausages to dry cured salami.

 

About the Author

Hank Shaw is the author of the book Hunt, Gather, Cook and the James Beard award winning blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Shaw has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, and his work has appeared in Food & Wine, Organic Gardening, Field & Stream and The Art of Eating, as well as hunting and conservation magazines such as Delta Waterfowl, California Waterfowl Magazine, and Pheasants Forever. He lives in the Sacramento, California area. You can learn more about him, and about his extensive tour cooking duck dinnersacross the US this fall and winter, at honest-food.net.

 

Duck Breast with Cherries and 

Maraschino Liqueur

 

SERVES: 4

PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES

 

Duck with cherries makes for a perfect combination of waterfowl with a mouth-watering twist. Sweet cherries, tart vinegar and the zing of green peppercorns make this a sophisticated dish that also happens to be easy to prepare. Think of it as a simple dinner party dish. Maraschino liqueur is widely available in most liquor stores, but regular brandy works fine here. This is a good dish for magret duck breasts, but any skin-on duck breast will work. Try to avoid really lean wild duck breasts.

Serve this dish with crusty bread or roasted potatoes (cooked in duck fat, of course), a green salad and a good red wine. A Chianti, a California Pinot Noir or a French Burgundy would be a good choice.

 

 

Ingredients: 

1½ to 2 pounds skin-on duck breasts 

Kosher salt

1 large shallot, minced

¼ cup maraschino liqueur or brandy

¼ cup Duck Glace de Viande or 1 cup Basic Duck Stock or beef stock reduced to ½ cup

1 Tbsp green peppercorns

20 cherries, pitted and halved

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, halved

 

 

Directions: 

1. Remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator, salt them well, set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Pat the duck breasts dry and pan sear them. When the breasts are cooked, set them aside on a cutting board skin side up and let them rest, tented with aluminum foil, while you prepare the sauce.

3. Pour off all but about two tablespoons of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté for about two minutes until it barely begins to brown. 

4. Take the pan off of the heat and pour in the liqueur (this prevents the liqueur from igniting in your face). Set the pan back on the heat and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the liqueur cook down by half, then add the glace de viande and peppercorns. Increase the heat to high and boil the mixture until reduced by half. 

6. Add the cherries and vinegar and cook, stirring often to coat the cherries, for two minutes. Turn off the heat, and when the sauce stops bubbling, add the butter and swirl it around in the pan until it dissolves. Add salt to taste. 

Note: Slice the duck breasts and arrange on individual plates. Spoon the sauce over the duck and serve at once.

 

Duck Glace De Viande

 

MAKES 2 TO 4 CUPS

PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES 

COOK TIME: 12 HOURS

 

Demi-glace: a spoonful can make a good sauce great or a weak soup strong. Thick, rich and silky, a good demi-glace tastes fatty without being so. It is the essence of whatever it’s made from. And while you can buy veal or beef demi-glace in places like Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma, finding duck demi-glace is nearly impossible unless you order it online from D’Artagnan. Plus, the homemade stuff makes use of parts of the duck many people toss in the trash. It is culinary gold, conjured from garbage.

Technically, this recipe yields glace de viande, which is even better than demi-glace. A demi-glace is made with the roux-based sauce espagnole, and a glace de viande is a collagen-rich stock that is cooked down to the point where it will gel in the fridge. A demi-glace can never be as crystalline in pure flavor as a real glace de viande. The key to a good glace de viande is collagen. Traditionally, it is made from a stock that contains veal bones, which are loaded with the stuff. Pig’s feet are another excellent source. Chicken feet have a decent amount of collagen, and so do duck feet. Hunters actually are in the best position here, as they can merely snip off the feet of the birds they bring home and store them in the fridge for later. 

The only challenge with this recipe is that it is a major undertaking. It takes all day, but you can break the process into several days, if you like. However you decide to do it, it’s worth it. Either domesticated or wild ducks can be used for this recipe.

 

 

Ingredients: 

Carcasses of 3 to 5 ducks or 2 geese, with some meat still attached (such as wings and necks) 

Olive oil, for coating

Kosher salt

20 to 30 duck or chicken feet or 2 pig’s feet

2 yellow or white onions, chopped

4 carrots, chopped  

5 celery stalks, chopped

4 cloves garlic, mashed with the side of a knife

Stems from 1 bunch flat-leaf or curly parsley

1 large sprig fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 large sprig rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed (optional) 

1 Tbsp cracked peppercorns

 

Directions

1. Trim off as much fat as possible from the carcasses. Coat the carcasses with oil, salt them well, and put in a large roasting pan. Put in the oven, turn on the oven to 400°F, and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until well browned. Alternatively, grill the carcasses over a hot fire until well browned.

2. Meanwhile, chop the duck feet with a cleaver or other heavy knife, or score the pig’s feet all over, to break the skin and expose the joints and bones. This opens up the feet so that the collagen can come out, which is what will make the concentrated stock solidify. You cannot skip the feet in this recipe.

3. When the carcasses are ready, remove them from the oven and chop them into large pieces with heavy kitchen shears or a cleaver. This will make it possible to fit them all into your stockpot. Transfer them to a large stockpot and add the feet. Pour in enough cold water to cover by one or two inches.

4.Turn on the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a bare simmer, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Simmer gently, uncovered, for four to six hours; the longer you go, the more powerful the final product. You can stop now if you like, refrigerate the stock, and pick up the process the next day.

5. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley stems, thyme, rosemary, bay, juniper, and peppercorns. Resist the urge to salt the stock. Continue to simmer gently, uncovered, for a little more than an hour.

6.Turn off the heat and strain the stock. Set up a fine-mesh sieve over another large pot (you may need two pots if you don’t have a second large pot). Line the sieve with a piece of plain paper towel or cheesecloth and ladle the stock through the sieve. Don’t try to capture the last dregs of stock at the bottom of the pot, and change the paper towel or rinse the cheesecloth once or twice. These steps are vital to making a clear stock. You should now have about six to eight quarts of stock. This is another place where you can stop, refrigerate the stock, and pick up the process later.

 

Basic Duck Stock

 

MAKES ABOUT 6 QUARTS

PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES        COOK TIME: 6 HOURS

 

This is a standard duck or goose stock used in a wide variety of waterfowl recipes. Every time you get a carcass, save it for stock. If you don’t have a lot of ducks around at one time, save them up for future rounds of stock making. You can chop up the carcasses before freezing, so they take up less space. Make this stock when you have a day off, as it takes all day. The good news is that you will be rewarded with four quarts or more of rich stock that is a perfect base for stews, soups, or wintertime risottos or polenta — or even eaten on its own as a clear soup.

 

 

Ingredients: 

Carcasses of 4 to 6 wild ducks, 2 to 3 wild geese, or 1 to 2 domestic ducks or geese, including wing tips, neck, and innards (not the liver), if possible

Vegetable oil, for coating

Kosher salt

1 pig’s foot or 20 duck or chicken feet (optional)

1 large yellow or white onion, chopped

1 large carrot, sliced 

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped 

½ ounce (about 1 handful) dried mushrooms (any kind)

1 Tbsp black peppercorns

1 Tbsp juniper berries (optional)

3 bay leaves

1 large sprig rosemary

Tops from 1 fennel bulb (optional)

Stems from 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp dried or fresh thyme

 

 

Directions: 

1. Coat the carcasses and various bird bits with oil. Salt them well and put in a large roasting pan. Put in the oven, turn on the oven to 400°F, and roast for about an hour until well browned. 

2. Meanwhile, score the pig’s foot all over or chop the duck feet with a cleaver or other heavy knife to break the skin and expose the joints and bones. There is collagen in the feet that will seep into the water and give the finished stock more body. 

3. When the carcasses are ready, remove them from the oven and chop them into large pieces with heavy kitchen shears or a cleaver. This will make it possible to fit them all into your stockpot. Transfer them to a large stockpot and add the feet. Pour in cold water to cover everything by about one inch. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a bare simmer, and cook very gently for two to eight hours. Do not let this boil.

4. Meanwhile, put the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in the roasting pan and stir to coat with the fat that has rendered from the duck bits. If you are using domestic ducks or fatty wild ones, you may have too much fat: if you have a pool of fat at the bottom of the roasting pan, drain off all but about three tablespoons. You can strain the fat and reuse it (it’s great for roasting potatoes). Put the vegetables in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until browned. 

5. When the vegetables are browned, pour about four cups water into the roasting pan and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.  

6. When the stock has simmered for at least two hours, add the vegetables, the liquid from the roasting pan, and all the remaining ingredients. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for one to two hours longer. 

7. Turn off the heat and strain the stock. Set up a fine-mesh sieve over another large pot (you may need 2 pots if you don’t have a second large pot). Line the sieve with a piece of plain paper towel or cheesecloth and ladle the stock through the sieve.

 

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