Lynn Guidry is a lot older since that first-time teal trip.
Although details of his “Guidry Tales” have faded - the talkative Breaux Bridge hunter has a story for just about everything.
Guidry could convulse an audience with a one-man stage show, and the stomach holds memories of an unforgettable supper, one served after what was, for some among the hunters who took to the Little Chenier marshes that morning years ago.
Guidry was a prize at any hunting camp: A man who liked to hunt, then tirelessly prepared a meal fit for a king.
When you stand next to him in a kitchen, you’re not going to get a neat list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions Stephanie Riegel and her cohorts print in The Advocate’s award-winning Food Section every Thursday.
After plucking and eviscerating and washing the teal - don’t just “breast-out” these small ducks - Guidry lines up his ingredients.
“You need onions (4-6), bell pepper, celery and Italian salad dressing, and 3-5 toes of finely chopped garlic (depending on how much you like garlic), oregano, black and red pepper and lemon juice, oh, and olive oil and white-wine Worcestershire (sauce),” he began.
You need what Guidry called a “granite” roaster and a black-iron pot.
Finely chop two large onions - it didn’t seem to matter if they were yellow, white or purple onions - and a large bell pepper. Add to that the garlic, a tablespoon of oregano, black and red pepper to your taste, a pinch or two of salt, 8 ounces of Italian salad dressing and 3-4 ounces of lemon juice.
This was his “stuffing” mix.
With a small, sharp knife, Guidry made two small, half-moon-shaped slits down the breastbone of each teal. He started from the rear of the breast (opposite the wishbone) and made sure the cut went to the front of the breast, then he stuffed the mixture into these two small openings on each teal.
“The lemon juice helps tenderize the ducks, the salad dressing keeps them from drying out and the other ingredients add flavor,” he said.
What’s important when immediately taking wild game from field to table in a matter of hours is the tenderizing process. In other countries, game like ducks are field-dressed, then left to hang in a cool, dry place to “age,” a process that makes the game more tender.
After that, Guidry lit the oven and set the thermostat to 350 degrees.
In the extra-large black-iron pot, he poured in enough olive oil to give him an eighth-of-an-inch across the bottom, then began to brown the teal over a medium fire on the stove, tending to the birds to make sure they didn’t stick.
After the teal started to brown, he added enough water to have about a quarter-inch covering the bottom of the roaster, and he browned and browned until most of the fat had cooked from the ducks. By then, the ducks’ skin was dark.
Then he removed the teal to a pan, then added four more onions, another bell pepper, garlic, pepper and salt to the roaster to make a gravy.
After this mixture cooked down, he added white-wine Worcestershire - substitute white wine for a light sauce or red wine for a hearty gravy - then, while the ducks were still warm, he wrapped bacon around each bird, then put them deep in a baking pan.
Now for the oven: “You cook that bacon down to get most of the fat out,” Guidry advised, adding, “because it’s real important to cook the bacon, but not cook the ducks that much. That’ll come later.”
Guidry was back at the stove stirring and sampling his gravy, tasting for the right amount of pepper all the while explaining that adding too much pepper can ruin the entire dish because black pepper can get bitter.
“And you don’t want too much salt because we’re supposed to be cutting back on that,” he said.
After baking the bacon and draining the fat from the pan, he ladled the gravy over the ducks, covered the granite pan - “Granite roasters hold moister in ducks,” he said - and cooked them for about three hours.
Guidry checked on his masterpiece several times to baste the ducks and ensure the gravy didn’t get too wet or too dry.
It’s almost impossible for a hunter to eat four teal in a sitting, but all that was left were bones.