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Duck or Goose Tarts

These tasty little meat pies make perfect preseason appetizers
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By Scott Leysath

Deer hunters are known to load their freezers with ground venison and processed deer sausage. But most waterfowlers don't usually think about turning ducks and geese into ground meats. This recipe, however, is full of savory goodness and is a delightful way to prepare wild game birds. It is also the perfect way to finish off any ducks and geese still left in your freezer from last season before this year's waterfowl opener.

Ducks and geese are like any other dark game. The ground meat is very lean and needs some added fat to help bind everything together, especially if burgers, sausages, or meatballs are on the menu. Whether the game is a mallard or a moose, I typically add 20 to 25 percent fatty ground beef or pork to the mix. Butter, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese will also add fat and flavor.

Duck or Goose Tarts

Tarts are basically pies without the upper crust. This is a bit ironic, because during the Middle Ages, pies were the grub of peasants; tarts were the fare of the upper crust—or aristocracy. Tarts can be filled with fruit, meat, or vegetables. They still have a hint of the hoity-toity about them, but don't let that deter you. Fill store-bought puff pastry with spicy ground duck or goose to make a great appetizer. These tarts are easy to prepare, and you can use their puffed-up reputation to impress family and friends.

When defrosting puff pastry, follow the directions on the package. Let the pastry thaw for 30 minutes at room temperature before attempting to unfold the sheets. Unfolding the thawing sheets too soon will cause them to split or crack. And if you wait too long, the pastry will become soft and the folded sections will be stuck together. Thaw for 30 minutes, unfold, and cut.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes  
Cooking Time: 25–30 minutes
Makes: 6–8 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups ground duck or goose meat
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg (optional), lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a tart or muffin pan. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares. Place squares evenly over the greased cups, allowing the excess pastry to overlap the edges of the cups. Press the pastry lightly into the cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the pastry is puffy and golden brown. Allow to cool.

Step 2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground duck or goose meat and lightly brown. Add green onions, mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 3. Remove mixture from heat and stir in cheese, egg (optional), cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into puff pastry cups and place in the 400° F oven for 4 to 5 minutes.


For Grinding, Go Electric If you decide to do your own meat grinding, I'd highly recommend that you buy a decent electric grinder. The hand-crank units are okay, but you would be better off investing the money in something that is both easier to use and more versatile. Besides, an electric grinder is an invaluable tool for anyone who hunts or simply enjoys processing different meats for a variety of dishes. It also makes your freezer inventory more versatile.
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