Ducks and Geese: They’re Delicious!
Nearly 10 years ago, my son, Mike, who was then 15 years old, stood on our patio in heavy winter camouflage clothing. He held a pair of drake mallards in each hand and couldn’t contain his excitement as he described how he got them.
“Dad, we had over 100 mallards come in on us,” he said. “You could hear their wings hitting limbs as they came in through the flooded timber.”
The excitement of that wade-and-shoot hunt at Duck Creek turned my son into an obsessed waterfowler. Mike quickly developed waterfowling skills and began regularly bringing ducks and geese home and putting them in the freezer.
This posed a problem. I didn’t hunt ducks or geese because I never cared for the taste of them. However, out of respect for the game my son was bringing home, and to honor his efforts, I had to learn how to make good use of his harvest.
I studied different wild-game cookbooks and tried numerous recipes. Some of them made the ducks and geese taste like tough liver. Other recipes, however, transformed waterfowl into superb cuisine.
Often recipes that call for domestic meats work well with wild game. A great source for recipe ideas is the Internet. With a little experience you will develop a knack for determining the quality of a recipe by just looking at the ingredients.
If your past attempts at cooking ducks and geese produced results that were less than satisfactory, try the following preparation tips and recipes. I think you will be pleased.
Rinse and Marinade
Waterfowl need strong breast muscles to migrate between summer breeding areas and winter feeding grounds. Abundant blood vessels furnish these flight muscles with oxygen and other nutrients. The large quantity of blood found in waterfowl breast muscles is the main reason waterfowl have the “ducky” taste many people dislike.
The first step to converting waterfowl to quality food is to rinse the blood out of the meat. The most efficient way to do this is to fillet the breast meat off the bone, trim off any fat, and cut the meat into 1-inch chunks. Using only the breast meat seems wasteful, but the amount of meat on waterfowl legs and backs is minimal.
Place the chunked breast meat in a bowl and run water over it, swirling the meat with your hands, a big spoon or a spatula. Squeeze the meat against the side of the bowl, then continue rinsing. When the meat