Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kitchen Challenge: Wild Duck and Wine

It's not often I get the chance to cook with wild game.  My husband and I both live far from home, a few thousand miles in fact, and as neither of us are hunters wild game only finds our way when friends have successful hunts, and need someone to cook (of course I volunteer!).  That, or when my Mountain Lion cat Maui brings home a mouse....

Today my husband approached me wondering if I knew how to cook wild Duck.  Now, being married, I am certain this question is outside of our norm, and he being a PhD student I surely would have noticed a hunting escapade... That on top of the fact we own no hunting gear.... unless you count a blanket and how easy it is to catch one of our cats in....

See how easy it is to catch a crosby....
In all honesty, I rarely cook game, and if anything my forte is venison.  My father is a wonderful hunter and has taught me a thing or two about prepping and preparing deer.  As for Wild Duck, I haven't had much luck, but being as obsessed with food and entertaining as I am, I would never turn a challenge down... And from how this sounded I may just be up for one!

And so, to answer my loving husband's question, I simply said yes.  Of course he knew there was more behind the way I had said it, as I purposely made it sound as so:  "yeeess.....????"

And as it turns out, a friend of ours found himself in possession of a successful hunt, and wanted to know if I would be willing to cook his ducks in exchange for a few glasses of wine (me being the Vegetarian I would not be enjoying the Duck itself, but rather enjoying the art of cooking it).

So the equation was delicious wine and a chance to experiment no strings attached.  Which is now why I have the chance to share with you this opportunity and recipe:  Seared Wild Duck Breasts with a White Wine Cream Reduction.  It being winter, I included rosemary and a pinch of nutmeg to add a holiday flavor.

And so I started.  Our hunter friend Ross had already cleaned the birds, so all that was left was to cook it... which was awesome!

After much research I found that wild duck although a poultry, is best served more on the rare side than well done.  The juices are important, the duck will resemble a steak and not a chicken, and if you find yourself over cooking it, it can cause a very gamey flavor that is better for dog food than dinner.

Also, it is important to note the bird's flavor is impacted by diet, so I did some research on where the hunt was, to understand how the bird would taste.  This duck was a grain feeder, so the flavors would be rich and easy to cook.  And so I began getting ready for the feast and my guests....

I set the table with a nice Red Hue, to accent the soon to be medium to rare duck gracing our plates.

Then I started the cooking:

Ross brought 6 duck breasts, all cleaned and ready to cook.  This meant a much simpler feast than previously imagined, as I was thinking whole birds.

And so I started a skillet with 1 minced shallot, 1 cove minced garlic, and a large sprig of rosemary.  I heated this, then removed the shallot, rosemary, and garlic, just to have an infused oil in the pan.

To cut the game-iness, I then added the breasts to the hot oil, and another sprig of rosemary.  I seared the bottoms for 3 minutes, sprinkling each side with sea salt, then flipped, cooked 3-4 more minutes, then placed the skillet under the broiler.
Before Broiling...
I broiled for 4 minutes then removed the breasts from the hot skillet and placed on a cool cutting board. I let them sit for 10 minutes to maintain their juice.m

Meanwhile I made a simple garlic white wine cream reduction.  For this I added any drippings I had from the duck skillet, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 tbsp Cream, and another sprig of rosemary.  I also had more minced garlic, about 1/2 clove.  This simmered for about 2 minutes, and to thicken I added about 1/2 tsp flour water slurry.

I sliced the duck, now rested and full of juice, and fanned it over wild black and vermicelli rice mixture.  Over this I drizzled maybe 1/2 tsp of the sauce and added a pinch of freshly minced parsley:

To serve just as I did, in simple terms I sliced the duck and served it alongside some wild rice.  Wild being the theme of tonights meal.  I sliced the ducks and simply fanned each breast so you could see the juicy pink centers.  I then drizzled the heavenly cream reduction over them, and served all this with some red wine.  It looked fabulous as a part of the table setting:

Apat from the food, my friends were beyond excited to dig in.  On top of the wild rice, we also had roasted winter vegetables and sage potato au gratin.  This feast was a sure start to the week of eating to come! And we were ready!

I hope that if you are a hunter, this recipe and post finds you well.  For a first time wild duck dinner, I think, and have been told, that I did well ;)  Another challenge for the books.... and boy it was a hard one!



  1. Aimee, I loved your statement about cooking for the "art of it" (even if it's not something you'd eat) -- it looked like a fabulous meal! Well done!!! (The post, not the duck...) :)

  2. Thanks Kimby ;) I love the pun "Well done and not the duck!!!"

    Often I am accused of being an odd vegetarian, but when you are passionate about something its not about what others eat, its a personal thing. And cooking really is an art!!! That, and I make sure no food is wasted at my house ;) Thanks for stopping by, I love the company!!


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