By Scott Leysath -

About this time every year, I get requests from folks who want to share their harvested ducks and geese with family and friends during the holidays. Wild waterfowl don't look or taste like their domestic cousins, but they can still be part of your holiday dinner. One of the best ways to serve them is in creative and flavorful side dishes. Here are two of my favorites.

Pintail Pilaf

This side dish pairs seared nuggets of tender pintail breast fillets with in-season winter squash, wild and brown rice, and dried cranberries. Serves 8.


  • 2 cups skinless pintail (or any duck) breast fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Step 1
Season the cubed duck breasts liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck and lightly brown on all sides.

Step 2
Remove the browned duck from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the butter and butternut squash. Season the squash with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Step 3
Add chicken broth and wild and brown rice; cook until the rice is hot. Add duck, cran-berries, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

Duck and Cornbread Stuffing

This side dish is especially good when made with spicy duck sausage. You can purchase a kit and turn duck breasts into sausage at home or have a local game processor do it for you. Another option is to use chopped or shredded duck. Serves 8-10.


  • 2 cups duck sausage, casings removed (or duck breast fillets, finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • Pinch of ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups cornbread croutons
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350deg;F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck sausage and brown evenly while stirring to break it into small pieces. Add onion, celery, jalapeño peppers, rosemary, sage, kosher salt, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.

Step 2
Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large bowl. Add the croutons and chicken broth; mix well. Let the mixture rest until the chicken broth is absorbed.

Step 3
Place the stuffing in a greased oven-safe skillet or baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.