Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Roast Mallard Duck

Dad was a great hunter, when I was small, and usually brought home a wild Goose or 3 or 4 Mallard Ducks for Thanksgiving Dinner.

He liked duck best and especially loved duck gravy over baked sweet potatoes. He often boasted he could eat his weight in it.

First shoot and dress your ducks. Then soak them overnight in the roasting pan, covered in salt water, to remove the "wild" taste.

Drain and wash ducks and pan. Place ducks on a wire rack, and salt and pepper to taste. Always use a rack so drippings go in the bottom of the pan. Place half a large peeled white potato inside each duck. While it's roasting, this will absorb any "fishy" taste, due to the duck's diet. Discard potato after duck is done.

Roast in an open pan, at 350 degrees, until duck is tender and breast meat shrinks down from the bone a bit. Using a pastry brush, baste every half hour with chicken stock and red wine, but DO NOT poke the birds with a fork, if you want the meat to be juicy.

Use the dripping to make gravey. Pour about half the dripping into an a deep iron skillet or Dutch oven, Fry 1 onion and 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms in the dripping. Use judgement on amounts of onion and mushrooms, more if more ducks, less if one or two. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of red wine. Add 2 cups of warm water ( or 1 cup for each duck if there are more than two) cover, and bring to a boil.

Thicken with 1 tbsp corn starch for each duck. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water (depending on number of ducks) then pour into boiling gravy stock. Stir until gravy thickens, then reduce heat to keep warm until serving.

To bake sweet potatoes: Wash whole sweet potatoes. (Do not wrap in aluminum foil.) Butter skins liberally and place on a cookie tin. Bake at 350 for an hour or until potatoes are soft to the touch. If you have a large enough oven, it's okay to put them in the oven while the ducks are baking.

Dad used to make his own red wine, too. But that's another recipe.

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