Fortunately for me I’ve always had hunters and fishermen in my family, so I’m used to having wild game and fish available.
Now, my grandsons, James Poché, 14, and Thomas Rimes, 12, are avid hunters. Each of them bagged a deer recently so I have a nice little stash of smoked deer sausage for gumbo or jambalaya. They also like to make po-boys with deer sausage and grilled peppers.
Wild ducks have a gamey taste, which, depending on what they feed on, can be strong. Many claim that marinating in such things as vinegar, wine, oil and vinegar dressing can lessen the gamey flavor. Marinating is up to you. I do it sometimes and other times I don’t.
I do not like to freeze ducks for a long time. “Real hunters” have their favorite way to freeze, season and cook them, and their camp recipes are generally the best. Because venison and duck meats are naturally lean, bacon is often used for moistness and flavor.
Many hunters debone the breast and just keep that part of the duck. I’ve had some delicious duck breast appetizers and entrees prepared by hunter-cooks, but, unfortunately, most of them don’t use a recipe. Appetizers and entrees are especially good made with the mild-flavored meat from wood ducks, teal and mallards. If you have mild-flavored ducks and fresh small turnips, an interesting recipe to try is Duck and Turnip. The flavors of duck and turnips go well together.
A Baked Wild Ducks recipe by Becky Young, of Abbeville, makes a dark, rich gravy. Her recipe uses eight ducks and feeds a big group, but you can easily cut it in half. In that recipe you have to turn the ducks often, so prepare the recipe when you know you will be in the kitchen for a long time or set the kitchen timer.
These are easy recipes that are tasty and a little different for using deer or duck meat that may be in your freezer.
Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.