By Scott Leysath

When it comes to casual dining, there are few items as handy as a tasty ribbon of meat threaded onto a wooden skewer. You grasp the skewer in one hand and hold your favorite beverage in the other. What could be better than that on a pleasant summer day?

Most meat-on-a-stick recipes let you know that it's best to soak wooden skewers in water so they don't burn on the grill. If the grill is sufficiently hot, they are going to burn no matter how long you soak them. I don't mind a burnt skewer, but if I want to impress someone (or take a photo), I'll replace the burnt stick with a new one. Another option is to simply grill strips of marinated meat and then stab them with a skewer for easy serving.

Waterfowl breast fillets should be sliced across the "grain," lightly pounded, marinated, and skewered before grilling. Marinating time can be from 2 to 6 hours, depending on the duck or goose. Darker-fleshed divers and sea ducks should be marinated for at least 6 hours to mellow out their more pronounced natural flavor. Prior to marinating, it's best to soak the sliced meat overnight in a mild saltwater brine to remove any excess blood. Pounding the meat before you marinate it will help break down the connective tissues and make the fillets more tender when cooked.

Cooking time is crucial when grilling thin strips of duck and goose breasts. Grilled properly, the meat will be tender and delicious; overcooked, it will become dry and leathery. Make sure the grill is hot and well oiled, then grill the skewered meat for only a few minutes per side. Start with a test skewer and grill the meat to desired doneness. Using that as your guide, cook the rest of the skewers after your guests arrive.

Spicy Orange Sesame Marinade

This marinade can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. It can also be used to marinate whole waterfowl breast fillets and as a basting sauce. Makes about 2 cups.


  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well to mix. Toss with sliced duck or goose breast fillets, place in a resealable bag or container, and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.

A Simple Dipping Sauce

Start with 1 cup of mayonnaise and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, a pinch of sugar, and several big splashes of your favorite hot sauce. Adjust ingredients as desired for sweeter, hotter, or tangier flavors.