If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they don’t like to eat duck, I’d have a nice little nest egg. When I ask them if they’ve ever tried wild duck, they reply, “Well, no, but I heard it’s greasy.” I’m not sure who started the greasy rumors.
After a successful hunt, you will likely have breast fillets or a whole plucked bird with any waterfowl. You can skin the bird, leaving the carcass, head, or wing attached for transport. Whether it’s breast meat or the whole bird determines how you cook it.
Breast fillets are the best way to deal with birds with many pin feathers, which are tiny immature pin-like feathers common on young of-the-year birds or plumage on older birds that have not fully developed yet. The last place where the immature feathers develop is under the wings or the back. If they are few, you can easily pull them out. Otherwise, you’re better off breasting or skinning the birds.
On our annual trip to the Prairie Pothole Region, we typically breast the birds we get the first few days because young birds are abundant with lots of pin feathers, and we need to eat birds to keep from having more than our possession limits. If we get a mature mallard of pintail, we’ll still pluck it, but otherwise, we breast them knowing that one of our early meals during the week will be Duck Fajitas. The recipe is quick and easy to make and is an excellent entrée after a long day in the field.
(Makes four servings)
- 1 1⁄2 pounds duck breast meat (cut into 1⁄2 inch thin strips)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 limes
- 1 bottle of beer
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 green bell peppers (cut into 1⁄2 inch strips)
- 1 yellow bell pepper (cut into 1⁄2 inch strips)
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into 1⁄2 inch strips)
- 1 large onion (sliced into rings)
- 1 package of 8 tortillas (8”)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
Pico de Gallo:
- 4 chopped tomatoes
- 2 diced jalapenos (seeds removed)
- 1 small onion
- 6 sprigs fresh cilantro (diced)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
In a large bowl, combine the Pico de Gallo ingredients and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Place the duck meat in a shallow glass casserole dish. Sprinkle with soy sauce and lime juice. Add enough beer to the dish to just cover the goose breasts. Preheat the gas grill or prepare your charcoal grill. Place the onions and peppers in a metal pie pan, and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the pan on the gas grill and cook covered for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the duck meat from the marinade and place it on the grill. Cook until rare to medium-rare on one side and turn over. Cook to your desired doneness and remove from the grill. To assemble, place a few strips of duck meat on a tortilla and top with the onion and pepper mixture, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and Pico de Gallo.
Stuffing is another way of utilizing large whole duck breasts. Lay a whole breast on the table and use a meat mallet to reduce the thickness by about one-half. Add a dollop of your preferred stuffing or wild rice. Lay a second piece of breast meat on top. Add a couple of half-strips of bacon or side pork over the fillets and roast for about an hour, taking care not to overcook them. Mix cherry preserves and some brandy to prepare a sauce to spoon over the duck before serving.