Another post from the past...shhh...don't tell our ducklings! Some of them may end up this recipe!
The other day, Stretch went duck hunting with our friend and came stomping into the living room happily toting five lovely ducks. After telling him to take them outside and not come in until they were cleaned and resembling food, I began to contemplate how in the world I was going to prepare them. Luckily, my good friend Charity, who is a marvel and heroine to me, was here with her family for dinner (her husband took mine on the killing spree...I mean, on the fill-the-freezer spree) and gave me some pointers.
First off, the night before you prepare your little quakers, a soaking in salt and vinegar water in the fridge is recommended. “To tenderize it?” I ask/comment, thinking myself knowledgeable in all things cooking. “No, to help get the fishy taste out,” Charity casually commented. “Fishy taste!?!” I say in utter surprise. “Yes, they feed on fish in the lakes.” Charity replies. Duh, I think to myself and my knowledgeable attitude brought down a notch or two. It makes perfect sense...you know, you are what you eat. I just never thought about wild ducks tasting fishy; gamey yes, but fishy, not so much. Charity continued telling me the secrets of cooking great duck, and I was soaking it all in. Crockpots work well...if you use the oven, keep them covered... stuffing with rice is nice...soups are also yummy. All great ideas that sent my mind reeling.
So after letting the little lovelies soak in apple cider vinegar and salt water I set to work, with the result of an absolutely, amazingly, wonderful dinner. So without further ado...
Duck a la Blackard
4 wild harvested ducks (or store bought would work)
1 medium onion, wedged
3 celery stalks, cut into 3 in. lengths
5 carrots, cut into 3 in. lengths
4 mini yellow bell peppers, stem cut off
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup roasted red peppers
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. seasoned pepper
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. bacon grease, optional
3 tbsp. whole wheat flour, optional
In the cavities of the ducks, stuff into each, one yellow pepper, onion wedge, celery piece, and carrot piece. In the bottom of a crockpot, place the remaining onion, celery, and carrots. Placed the stuffed ducks on top of the vegetable bed with the breasts up. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, roasted red peppers and seasoning together. Pour over ducks and turn on low. Cook 6 hours or until the duck breasts pull from the bone. Carefully take the ducks from the crockpot (they will or should fall apart) and separate the meat from the bone. Fish the vegetables out and place in a serving dish.
The next step is optional but very tasty. I had a little bacon grease that I warmed up on the stove. I then added 3 tablespoons of flour to the grease and cooked until the grease was absorbed. Strain the juice in the crockpot, then pour into the pan with the flour mixture and cook, whisking continually until it thickens into a gravy.
To serve, plate up duck and vegetables and cover with gravy and a side of spaghetti squash.
1 spaghetti squash
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Pre-heat oven to 400. Place squash whole in oven on a baking dish (trust me...I had a mess in the oven to clean!). Cook for 30 minutes. Pull rack out and puncture squash with fork to release steam. Return to bake an additional 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. With a fork, remove the flesh from the skin and place in a serving bowl. It will resemble spaghetti. Add butter, chili powder and nutmeg and stir. Serve warm.
This meal was amazing. The nutmeg of the squash matched perfectly with the robust flavor of the duck and vegetables. I was a little worried I’d be eating fishy poultry, but was very pleased with the flavor of autumn playing in my mouth. So if you’re wanting a culinary adventure, try the duck.
Have you ever cooked duck before?