I’m not a hardcore waterfowl hunter, but I certainly appreciate any opportunities that pop up to spend time in the marsh. Putting ducks and geese on the X and knocking them out of the air is a blast, but for me it’s equally (or even more) fulfilling when these avian delicacies land on my plate.
I joined my friend, Todd Gifford aka “the Crow Man”, at his western Minnesota duck camp during the opener this fall. My best success came from a long walk through the muck and jumping a mixed bag of ducks from a flooded pasture. Fortunately, a couple of wood ducks couldn’t outmaneuver my sub-par shotgunning skills. Woodies are some of the best eating ducks I’ve tasted. I’ve cooked them a lot of different ways, but I can’t take credit for this recipe. My girlfriend has fond memories of eating wild game as a kid, and this particular duck dish comes straight from her childhood kitchen. When served together, this comforting duo will warm your soul and bring your mind back to the marsh with every mouthful.
Orange Glazed Duck
Ingredients (serves 2)
Two wild ducks (breasts or plucked whole)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 sliced sweet onion
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons lemon juice
For starters, all ducks can have a “strong” flavor—especially if you don’t remove their innards quickly after they’re killed. To the guys who wait all day to clean your ducks and then complain about their flavor: Get your act together. Regardless of your stance on eating ducks, you can always soak the meat in a saltwater solution for 24 hours to tame down the flavor. Personally, I think they’re pretty damned tasty fresh out of the sky.
To cook the ducks, start by combining all spices with flour in a mixing bowl. Thoroughly coat ducks in the dry blend. Heat the olive oil and butter in a cast-iron skillet. When the oil is hot, add the ducks until there is a nice brown crust on each breast side. Cover with sliced onion and cook in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.
In a separate small saucepan, heat orange marmalade and lemon juice on low, stirring constantly until it becomes syrupy.
Wild Rice Stuffing
14 ounces chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup cranberry sauce (whole berry)
Handful of dried cranberries
Combine broth, rice, and wild rice in a cast-iron skillet. Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, cranberry sauce and green onions into cooked rice and mix evenly. Serve with dried cranberries and additional cranberry sauce as garnish.
Serve one duck per person alongside a heaping pile of the wild rice stuffing. Smother ducks with orange glaze.