With waterfowl seasons having closed recently we now have time to deal with the delicious part of the hunt…eating DUCKS! If you find yourself in duck camo with me (I am open to invites, just sayin’) do not expect to pull up to camp dinner of a big steaming plate of “duck poppers.” I actually find it disheartening that to so many hunters, that is a wild duck dinner. They love to tell me how delicious it is, and I don’t doubt that, but let’s be honest here, with enough bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeños, I could probably get you to eat your own hand, or damn near anything else.
For me, the beauty in eating wild duck is to develop a recipe that compliments the duck species and to enjoy the subtle flavors of the meat. Some wild ducks simply taste better than others, and if I was preparing a meal of scaup or ringneck, I may opt for a stronger flavor set to bring that meal together. For most puddle ducks, such as the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks I used in this recipe, Duck Confit is an amazing way to enjoy the fatty, rich, flavorful meat that these birds possess.
This also a great way to utilize more of your kill. Stop breasting out the damn birds and tossing the rest, take a few minutes to pluck the legs, remove, and you are ready to go. Lightly seasoned with herbs, a bit of garlic, and a shot of salt and good pepper, this recipe is pretty easy, as once the duck is prepped and in the fridge, all you need to do is wait….and then confit them!
Wild Duck Confit
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Marinating Time: 2 days
- Cooking “Confit” Time: 2.5 – 3 hours…then 8 minutes on the grill
- 4 duck legs (drums & thighs) skin on
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crossly chopped
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 4 cups duck fat (you can render fat from the carcasses of plump wild birds or purchase it online. It is also available in many larger supermarkets these days.)
- In a glass casserole dish, large enough to arrange the duck legs in a single layer, sprinkle half of the salt and then toss in half of the shallots, garlic, and thyme.
- Place duck legs, skin side up, on top of the mixture.
- Sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper over the duck legs, then cover with the remaining shallots, garlic, and thyme.
- Rub the seasonings into the meat, so they are well coated, and then lay skin side up in the dish.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for a day or two.
- ON DAY TWO… preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
- Add duck fat to a saucepan, on low heat, to melt.
- Remove duck legs from the dish and wipe the salt, herbs, and garlic off of the meat with a dry paper towel.
- Place duck legs in a roasting pan that allows them to fit snuggly. You do not want too much extra room, as you want the legs to be covered with the liquified fat.
- Pour melted fat over duck legs, making sure that they are covered completely.
- Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the duck is tender and begins to pull from the bone.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. You can either store the legs, IN THE FAT, in your fridge for a couple of weeks or remove from the fat and place on a hot grill until the skin crisps nicely and the meat is warmed through. As a side I also suggest using the same fat from this recipe to fry up some duck fat potatoes as well. Fry until crispy and cooked through then hit them with a little salt & pepper.