John Hoffman, Recipe.jpg

John Hoffman, DU


Suppose you have a mixed bag of waterfowl in your freezer, but not enough of any one kind to make a meal. If you are short on ducks and geese, throw in some venison sausage or perhaps a few pheasant, dove, or quail breasts. Add some fresh peppers, squash, onions, and other vegetables, and you have the makings of a fine mixed grill.

Before grilling any waterfowl, I prefer to soak the birds or bird parts overnight in a simple brine solution. One cup of kosher salt (or 3/4 cup table salt) and 1 cup of brown sugar dissolved in a gallon of water will make a basic brine.

The next morning, simply take the birds out of the brine and pat them dry. To further enhance flavor, soak the meat and vegetables in a marinade for 2 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

When it's time to put game to flame, start with the bigger, thicker cuts first. Giving thicker pieces a good head start will ensure that all the meat is cooked at the same time. Once it's cooked, give the meat a chance to "rest" for a few minutes so the natural juices have a chance to redistribute before serving. Then sit back and enjoy the rave reviews from your lucky guests.

Preparation Time: About 20 minutes
Brining Time: 6-12 hours (optional but strongly recommended)
Marinating Time: 2-6 hours
Grilling time: 10 minutes


  • Duck and goose breast fillets, split birds, game sausage, etc.-the quantity will depend on the number of guests
  • Marinade (about 1 1/2 cups for 6-8 servings)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Fresh peppers, squash, onions, and other vegetables as desired, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices for grilling


  1. In a blender or food processor, pulse all marinade ingredients, except for the olive oil, until smooth. While the motor is running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the marinade is emulsified.
  2. Examine your game inventory. If birds are whole, split them, starting at the top of the breastbone. Work a sharp knife down each side until you have two boneless fillets with the leg and wing bones attached. Remove shot and any discolored parts. Place the meat and vegetables in separate bowls or large resealable plastic bags and pour in marinade; toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, turning contents every hour or so.
  3. Remove game and vegetables from their respective marinades and let drain. Reserve the marinades for basting. Place game and vegetables on a medium-hot grill and cook to desired doneness. Baste the meat and veggies with their reserved marinades while grilling, but be careful-the olive oil from the marinade will cause flare-ups on a hot grill! Don't burn or overcook.
  4. Arrange grilled game and vegetables on individual plates or platters, drizzle with sauce (if desired), and serve.

Spicy Mustard Grilling Sauce

This simple sauce is perfect for drizzling over grilled game. It can be made in advance and refrigerated for a week or two. To prepare, simply heat all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to blend.


  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash or two Tabasco