By Bill Nichol
Preparing ducks and geese for the dinner table has always been part of North America’s waterfowling tradition. Many recipes pass from one generation to the next. Others are traded between hunting partners. And some are the product of bold experimentation in the kitchen.
We received a broad sampling of these cherished duck and goose recipes for the Ducks Unlimited Recipe Contest announced in January. All told, nearly 1,500 recipes from people in 46 states were submitted by the March 30 deadline. The gunning gourmets who took part in the contest employ a variety of cooking techniques and an even wider range of ingredients, including 24 kinds of fruit and 17 types of alcoholic beverages.
Yet, not all recipes are created equal. After five rounds of judging, the chefs on DU’s Hunt & Home Culinary Council selected five winning recipes based on several criteria: readily available ingredients, creativity, user-friendly preparation, and taste. If you have been looking for a new way to cook your ducks, try one of the five winning recipes detailed on the following pages. Bon appetit!
Southwestern Grilled Duck with Chipotle-Apricot Glaze
This recipe was submitted by Joshua Sasser of Deville, Louisiana. Sasser hunts a mix of dabblers and divers on central Louisiana’s famous Catahoula Lake. Living near the heart of Cajun country, he created this winning recipe as an alternative to the local duck gumbo. Makes 6 servings.
1 gallon water
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
10 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon pickling spice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 12-ounce jar apricot jam
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and finely diced
6 duck breast fillets
Preparation and Cooking Instructions
To prepare brine, stir together water, honey, dark brown sugar, salt, cilantro, pickling spice, onion powder, and garlic powder. Carefully check duck fillets to remove any shot from the meat. Place fillets in brine and store in refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours but preferably overnight.
To prepare chipotle-apricot glaze, add jam and diced peppers to a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Strain if desired.
Remove duck fillets from brine and pat dry. Cook fillets over a hot grill until medium-rare, about 3 minutes per side. To achieve grill marks, move meat as little as necessary. Just before removing fillets, lightly baste both sides with glaze.
Allow fillets to rest for a few minutes prior to slicing. Slice fillets at an angle and drizzle reserved glaze over the meat. Garnish with cilantro or scallions. Serve with wild rice or any other favorite side dish.