To give a little background on this, Judy Laquidara at Patchwork Times issued a challenge to post a cajun recipe on your blog, link to her blog, and you would be in the running for some Slap Ya Mama seasoning…..so, I am going to post my husband’s recipe for Duck Gumbo (he is the main cook in the household, so I had to go to him and beg and plead for him to make this and that he had to do it BEFORE Valentine’s Day). He is so wonderful, he laughed at me and agreed to do it.
This is just the preparation of the duck for cooking. We prepare wild duck this way whether it is for gumbo, sausage, kabobs, duck peppers, or duck filets.
FREEZING WILD DUCK
We use all wild duck or goose that we have hunted and harvested ourselves. We love to hunt, and Jeff has been able to figure out several recipes that are actually delicious! I can’t guarantee any outcomes on domestic duck as they have quite a bit more fat in them than wild duck.
We freeze the duck breasts we harvest every year and generally end a duck season with a two or three hundred breasts in the freezer (remember, they are generally smaller than chicken unless you are dealing with goose). That is also individual sides of the breast – so one duck would make two duck breasts. When he freezes them, Jeff labels the packages with the type of duck and whether they are “Gumbo and Sausuage” breasts (meaning they aren’t very pretty and have a lot of holes in them) or “Steak” or “Good” breasts (the best meat and best tasting type of ducks).
For instance, the package above shows the date it was frozen, that there are five mallard (M) breasts, and that they would be good for steak, kabobs, duck peppers, or whatever. This way, depending on what we are going to cook, he can get the best breasts out for each purpose.
Here is how they are packaged in our freezer. In the past, Jeff has put them in freezer bags, filled them with water, and frozen them that way to combat freezer burn.
This year we started out doing it that way, but then on the recommendation of a friend, started using the vacuum-type freezer bags you can buy in the supermarket. That is what the picture underneath shows, and you can see each is also marked with the date, kind of duck, and what it would be for. I will let you know next fall how that experiment went! We have never had any duck go bad in the freezer before…..
I sure like it because they don’t take up nearly as much room in our freezer. Last year we couldn’t get anything but ducks in there.
PREPARATION OF WILD DUCK FOR COOKING
We are having about 10 adults and five children ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years over on Saturday and Jeff always makes extra gumbo to freeze or to eat for left overs.
Wednesday morning Jeff got out 23 duck breasts (so 11 and 1/2 ducks total), all marked sausauge and gumbo. The ducks included widgeon, pintail, mallards, and gadwalls. For those that don’t know, teal and mallards are probably some of the best eating ducks – teal are known as “flying tenderloins” but they are very small also.
Once these breasts were thawed out, he did a once-over to make sure they were washed and free of feathers. We do this before we freeze them also, but sometimes you can miss feathers! You can see from the picture above that there are quite a few holes in the breasts. You can also see they are very lean. I haven’t been able to find a specific number of calories for WILD duck breasts, but it has to be really low and very healthy. He then places the breasts in a bowl, covers them with milk, and puts them in the refrigerator to marinate. We have also used Italian dressing, but have found milk works just as well and is cheaper to boot.
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS WHEN YOU ARE COOKING WILD DUCK – if you skip this step, the wild duck I have eaten tastes like shoe leather soaked in liver oil! UGHH!
Here is what the duck looks like soaking in milk. Not pretty, but it sure does the job. Jeff had two bowls of duck breasts.
Here you can see the two bowls in the refrigerator. He covers them with Saran or Glad wrap. They will sit here until Friday morning, which is when we are going to cook the gumbo as we have a full day Saturday before everyone gets here.
I really have the most wonderful husband in the world. I had Women’s Bible Study at church Wednesday morning while Jeff got the duck ready. He actually remembered that I needed photos of the process, went downstairs and found the camera in my sewing room, and came back up and took all these photos as he was preparing the duck. He is the BEST!