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Duck Duel Deux: Win Dinner, Hotel Room

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Hank Shaw

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It is on like Donkey Kong! A rematch of last year’s “Iron Chef Duck” cooking competition between Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange restaurant and myself. And this year there are several new twists.

For those of you who remember last year’s competition, while I did lose by a whisker (damn Chef Tuohy’s warm duck rillette!) I had the time of my life. Well, the good people at the Citizen Hotel and Grange called me to say they wanted to do a duck duel redux. But of course I said “oui!”

This year there will be no separate competition held in the afternoon. Nope, this time we’re laying everything on your table — each course of the dinner will be a series of duos, each representing how Chef Tuohy and I would interpret the same basic dish. Which dishes? Ah, well that’s the secret, isn’t it?

You get to be the judge. We’re planning on having cards on each table for you to fill out which of the two dishes on each plate you liked best, then we tally up the scores and announce a winner. I think the management said the winner gets $100,000, but I might have misheard that one…

The dinner, which will be a fixed-price, set menu, will start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 11. Exactly how many courses (we’re leaning toward four) and how much (somewhere around $50) remains to be worked out.

If $50 sounds steep, keep in mind there will be at least four courses and that 10 percent of the proceeds will go to help the California Waterfowl Association buy, restore and maintain wetlands all over the state. So it’s for a good cause!

Cost will be of no object to two of you, however: Dinner for two will be free — and I’ll even kick in a free hotel room at the Citizen Hotel, where Grange is located. If you’ve never seen it, The Citizen is pretty damn swanky. The management gave me a free night at the hotel as a gift for last year’s competition, but I’ve decided to give it to the winner so that people who live outside the Sacramento area can enter.

I know, I know, get on with it. You want to know how to win the free dinner and hotel room, right? It’s simple:

I want your best duck or goose recipe.

That’s it. If you are a blogger and have posted the recipe on your site, describe it, tell me why it’s so good, and send me a link. If you are not a blogger, write the recipe down in the comments section.

Wait. I hear some of you saying, “But Hank, I’m an eater, not a cook!” Fair enough. If you really don’t have a good duck or goose recipe, tell me (in the comments section) in 100 words or less, why I should pick you as the winner. Whoever convinces me gets dinner for two, but, alas, no free hotel room — they’re only allowing me to give away one of those.

Deadline? Well, while it’s unlikely, there is a definite possibility someone might jump on a plane to come out here, especially because of the free lodging. That’s why I’m setting the deadline for this contest at October 27. I will announce the winner on October 28, which gives you two weeks to book a flight, get a pet sitter, toss the crumb-snatchers in the closet, whatever.

So, to sum up, the best duck or goose recipe gets dinner for two and the night at The Citizen Hotel. I will also be giving away dinner for two to the best story about why I should choose you. (Remember, 100 words or less.)

Either way, you can make a reservation for the Duck Duel Deux here.

Good luck to you — and wish me luck, too! Chef Tuohy is the real deal, and I’ll be cooking in his house.

Michael Tuohy and Hank Shaw

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

35 responses to “Duck Duel Deux: Win Dinner, Hotel Room”

  1. Dog Island Farm

    I don’t have any recipes to share because I’ve never cooked either duck or goose. I’ve only had duck once – in a poorly prepared Chinese dish – and I’ve never had goose. I’d love to try both and learn how to prepare them before raising them. Unfortunately my husband and I just started a project where we are not buying food from grocery stores or restaurants for a year – so trying it again is pretty much out of the question. Winning a dinner, however, is fair game. ;)

  2. dmsintexas

    Duck Pot-Pie…..Like a duck on the water; pretty and calm on the top but busy as hell underneath.

    Instead of a “Pig in a Blanket” you could make a Duck in a Blanket. Get all patriotic, make it a salute to our troops in battle and call it “Duck and Cover!!”

    You could take a pasty looking piece of duck, put it on a mountain of mashed potato real estate and top it with a pompadour of thickly beaten duck egg whites. Call it “The Donald”.

    For a goose desert how about a thinly tapered 3 inch log of Oreo cookies and cream ice cream?

    But remember, as a wise man once said….If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck…..put it back in the pot and let it cook a little longer.

  3. Mike at The Big Stick

    For goose my hunting and non-hunting friends love tacos:

    I pan-sear the breasts and then rub a little taco seasoning on them before finishing in the oven. Then I thin-slice them.

    For the tacos I like to make my own by frying corn tortillas until crispy but not hard.

    Goose meat goes in, some kind of good shredded cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, carmelized onions avacado and I top with mole sauce (I use the jar version and augment with a little dark choclate and tobasco).

  4. kate@livingthefrugallife

    I have no hope of winning this, as we’ve already established that most of what I like to cook is way beneath your level, Hank. But I’ll toss it out there anyway. My favorite recipe for duck comes from the south of France, where they know a thing or two about duck. Very simple: deeply score the fat on the breasts without cutting into the meat. Cook them in a hot skillet, skin side down, for ten minutes, removing some of the fat as it releases. Flip onto the meat side and cook another 5 minutes. Put them into an oven just warm enough so that they don’t cool down much. In the fat remaining in the pan (or that you reserved), add big fat wedges of a really tart apple, not peeled. (I like granny smiths.) Turn the apples once, making sure both sides of the wedge are nicely browned, but don’t overcook. Throw the apples in with the breasts to keep warm. Deglaze the pan with a red currant *jelly* (not jam) or some other bright, tart red fruit jelly. Add salt, and a twist of finely grated white pepper if you must. Then add cream and reduce to consistency. Serve the breasts thinly sliced and artfully arranged. At those cooking times, it should be pretty pink and medium-rarish, depending on the size/thickness of the breasts. You have to serve this with something green, barely cooked, and minimally seasoned to break up the richness of the dish. (Haricot vert work nicely, but so do other things.) It’s really good, but made from only very basic ingredients.

    Barring that, you might try a roasted pecan-duck/goose mousseline forcemeat (marjoram, nutmeg), pipe it into boned out legs (not an easy feat, so this may prove challenging enough to interest you), wrap the stuffed legs in caul fat (also hard to come by and so may interest you) to hold it all in, and then sear them off in a pan. For the sauce you could go in the direction of richness with a well seasoned veloute, or something more fruity like applejack/white wine reduction. I know if this happens to interest you, you won’t need more than this sketch to take it where you want to go, so forgive the lack of measurements or specific instruction.

  5. Marshall from Rangeland


    Are these wild birds or farm-raised birds?

    I’ll get you my risotto recipe.


  6. Bumbling Bushman

    Here’s mine for wood duck confit, I can’t really claim ownership of it except I adjusted the curing period to address those delightful little legs and thighs. The cure mix and technique comes from Tom Colicchio’s “Craft of Cooking.”
    I have also been making a garlic jelly (from the Ball Blue Book) that is a last-minute add-in to a red wine and blueberry pan reduction sauce that goes really well with your basic instruction for pan seared and roasted duck breasts. I’d love to come see the duel in person, but I’ll be deer hunting that evening. Good luck Hank.

  7. Jesse

    For a Mac & Cheese competition last year I made duck bourbon Mac & Cheese.

    I challenged myself to use as much of the duck as possible. I incorporated everything but the breasts (which I reserved for another meal.) Legs became confit, and even the body was used to make a stock, which I reduced to a demi-glace and incorporated into the sauce. Top the whole things off with duck fat croutons, and we had something really, really indulgent. The vegan judges at the competition were not amused.

  8. Arica

    Good luck!!! I adore Grange but I like you more. :D 100 words is hard but here’s my “recipe” (I’ve only tried it with Pekin duck):

    Prepare duck by removing excess fat, rinsing, drying and scoring the skin. Toast your spices: cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, kaffir lime leaves, brown peppercorn and fenugreek. Smash everything with garlic, shallots, galangal, lemongrass. Use a mortar and pestle. Add wet ingredients: fish sauce, tamari, citrus such as orange or lime, Shaoxing wine, sherry or bourbon. Rub duck inside and out, leave in the fridge for 4 hours. Put everything (reserve some marinade if you want a sauce) in a large pan filled with boiling salted water. Poach for 30 minutes. Roast for 45 minutes at 450.

  9. Carolina Rig

    Easy…My go-to Duck Hash for guests who ‘don’t like inards’…

    Pull out that cast iron skillet. Sear chopped duck hearts, livers, and/or gizzards in rendered duck fat. I use gw teal and wood duck, b/c thats all I seem to shoot down here in Swansboro. Remove. Saute diced onions then minced garlic in duck fat. Toss in your favorite waxy potato or sweet potato, diced please, same size as your duck bits. Salt. Cook over med-low heat until done to your liking. Crank up heat to med to put some color on those potatoes. After sufficient golden brown deliciousness added, toss in some chopped tomotoes (I like cherry tomatoes, but anything will work…even canned…just keep the liquid minimal). Once tomatoes are warmed and liquid is gone, add some scallions and finish with a drizzle of you guessed it, duck fat.

  10. Arica

    Dooo it! It produces the most succulent flesh and crispy skin! It’s also great for holidays b/c you can poach it and refrigerate the day before. The technique is Nigella Lawson’s and the seasonings are mine. You don’t need much of the spices and I forgot to add that the pan needs to be covered while poaching. Oh well.

    It hit me that you’ve probably replied to my other comments and I just haven’t checked back before…

  11. Paul C

    I do a killer Pate de Campagne with duck breast and pistachios layered in it …

    But if that’s not duck specific enough, I love Pomegranate sauce over a roasted breast… with Pomme Frittes cooked in the rendered duck fat from the breast.

    Another thing I love to do, which I haven’t blogged is bone out a duck leg and stuff it with Chorizo and then cook it sous vide to 55C and quickly sear it to crisp up the skin. Rolled and sous vide it ends up like much like a sausage with the skin acting as a casing and a contrasting layer of duck meat surrounding spicy ground pork. It’s probably a little risky to eat my ground pork at 55C … but I’d rather risk death from botulism than eat overcooked duck! Plus I grind it myself, so I have some confidence in its cleanliness.

    Also if I win I’ll bring Ryan from Nose2Tail@home ( assuming he’s not busy ) as my guest… I’m not afraid to name drop for personal gain…

  12. deana@lostpastremembered

    Hmm. I have a recipe that’s pretty fabulous… it has blood orange , madeira and rose essence in it and is incredibly luxurious. I used it on duck breast and changed the ingredients somewhat from the original. It was based on one in one of the oldest cookbooks around, Le Menagier de Paris. In it, an older husband tutors his new young wife in all matters of house and kitchen and this recipe is for a whole bird , albeit a partridge. I think the addition of venison in the mix makes it right up your game alley:

    “Item: partridge must be plucked dry, and cut off the claws and head, put in boiling water, then stick with venison if you have any, or bacon, and eat with fine salt, or in cold water and rose water and a little wine, or in three parts rose water, orange juice and wine, the forth part.”

    My recipe (roasted rather than boiled) is in the blog :

  13. Stephanie - Wasabimon

    Pick me! Pick me! Just because I’m super awesome and you all love me.

    If that’s not a good enough reason, well, then I suppose I could post a recipe:

    Honey Citrus Duck

    I marinate duck breasts in a mix of orange juice, honey, white wine and ginger. The marinade gets cooked down to a mega-tasty reduction, after adding some tamari and a little more honey. The breasts get seared and then roasted at 400F until they’re perfect, then they’re drizzled with the reduction.

    Dammit, now I’m hungry.

  14. Carol

    You need a few weeks of lead time for this, so maybe it wouldn’t work for a cook-off (and it isn’t even cooked!)…but it’s so good…you’ve probably made it yourself. Back when I had an extra fridge with lots of space, I’d make duck breast “prosciutto”–my adaptation of an Alice Waters recipe, though there are many other versions out there. Annoint boneles, skin-on duck breasts, patted dry (divided into halves; remove the “tenders” and save for another use) with a few drops of gin, or brandy/armangnac, or pastis, depending on your personal flavor preference. They should be slightly moist, not wet. Then sprinkle with a mixture of salt (a heaping tablespoon per breast half), sugar (a couple of big pinches), Herbes de Provence, crushed fennel seed (less if your H de P contains fennel already), crushed juniper berries (just a few), and coarsely ground black pepper. Place breast halves on a platter in a single layer and refrigerate 48 hours, turning 2-3 times over the two days. Drain and pat dry, then wrap each breast half in cheesecloth and tie at each end. Hang, not touching, in a cool place–lacking a wine cellar and being a bit cautious about temperature and spoilage, I used an extra fridge set at 40-45 degrees–for 10 days, then turn 180 degrees and hang from the other end another 8-10 days. The cured meat should be firm to the touch and will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, wrapped in parchment or plastic. Slice as thinly as possible for serving. I haven’t made this with goose breast, but I’ve had house-cured goose breast in restaurants and it’s also fabulous.

    Good luck in the competition–wish I lived nearby! Well, no, I don’t actually…but you know what I mean…

  15. Melody Elliott Koontz

    I just made reservations. Brianna…the new hostess….did not know about this event. She asked me what time I wanted to eat. I said that I thought it started at 5:30. Is that right?

  16. J.R. Young

    When I’m not doing taxes, foraging for mushrooms, or chasing four legged mammals for dinner; I collect and drink wine. Do you know if we would be able to bring our own wine to dinner? I know corkages can vary wildly, but I’d be interested in bringing in 3-4 bottles of aged burgundy or some older CA gems (plenty enough for the chefs of course).

    Let me know if you have an idea, or I could just call the restaurant.


    PS, this is my entry to ” “But Hank, I’m an eater, not a cook!”. While I am a cook, I have no duck or goose recipes, so I figure I’ll offer you some juice to pair with your dishes.

  17. kate@livingthefrugallife

    Hank, yes I’ve made both dishes. The simple duck breasts quite a few times, and the legs only twice many years ago, when I was fresh from culinary school and still retained some ambition. (The breasts are so simple I’ve even taught the dish in a cooking class, which probably rules it right out for you.)

  18. Patti S

    While this isn’t my own original recipe (it’s from The Complete Hunter Game Bird Cookery, published in 1997 by Cowles Creative Publishing ), it’s my favorite recipe for wild mallard breasts. It also works with teal with different cooking times, and can be done with domestic duck breast, although the result is vastly different.

    I play around with variations on the sauce from time to time, but the original follows

    Duck Breasts with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce

    1 tablespoon butter
    3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or onion
    1 1/2 cups beef broth
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour-mash whiskey, divided
    2 to 3 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
    1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    2 boneless skinless puddle duck breasts (6 to 8 oz. each), split in half
    2 tablespoons butter

    4 servings

    In 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, wine, 1/4 cup whiskey, and the pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream. Continue boiling for 8 to 10 minutes, or until sauce reduces to 1 cup, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon whiskey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set sauce aside and keep warm.
    Sprinkle coarse salt evenly in bottom of 10-inch non-stick skillet. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add duck breasts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned, turning breasts over once. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until meat is desired doneness. Spoon sauce over or around duck breasts on serving plates.

  19. Peter

    Despite really wanting to eat your food, it’s unlikely I could get there for the meal. So if elected, I refuse to serve; I’ll donate my 2 tickets to someone else. I make a lot of duck, so it’s hard to choose. Also, recipes? Not so much, as you know. But here are a few:


    And thanks for updating the url in your links. Cheers!

  20. Xesla Research Organisation » Blog Archive » Smoked Duck Confit

    [...] by one of my favourite blogs Hunter Angler Gardener Cook asking for duck recipes to win a seating at his upcoming duck Duel, I was thinking about good duck [...]

  21. Paul C

    After reading this and going through my old duck recipes I couldn’t stop thinking about duck… I’d also just been to a killer BBQ joint and so decided to do combine BBQ and Duck for dinner last night. I ended up making Smoked Duck Confit, and it was absolutely amazing!

    I cured duck legs with a hybrid confit cure / bbq rub and the next morning I cold smoked the legs and then confit them sous vide for the rest of the day. At first I thought I’d invented something new, but some googling told me that it’s been done before…

  22. Garrett

    Duck rillete. Yes.

  23. Gary

    Not in it to win it, and couldn’t even envision myself as a contender in any case, just thinking that maybe some sort of theme could be interesting… I’m in Asia now, and they do TONS of fowl over here. The whole Beijing Duck experience comes to mind where they take roasted duck, slice the crisp, fragrant skin and wrap in thin pancakes with plum sauce, meat usually eaten as-is with raw leek accompaniment, bones kept for soup or fried crisp with fennel – your choice… not saying that this should be the deal as i know you’re looking for unique recipes, but perhaps some sort of an interactive feed would set you apart… i guess i’m just a fan of finger foods that make the eater part of the creation. Not sure if this helps spark any ideas or not! :-)

  24. Em

    Hi, Hank! This wasn’t my creation and I don’t have a recipe but I thought that this might give you some inspirational ideas.
    Seared Duck Breast with Corn Blini, Arugula, and Cranberry Mascarpone (from Waterbar in San Francisco)

    Good luck!

  25. Jeremy

    Heres mine: Duck en Brochette (my style)

    Season and marinate duck breasts (woodies, teal are the best) in OJ, Teriyaki, a little soy sauce, lemongrss, and a little pickapeppa sauce. I dont make the marinade too strong, as I want to taste the meat. I usually let them mariante overnight.

    Cut into 2in cubes. Take 1 lb of bacon and cut the slab in half. Place the duck cube on the bacon slice. Top with a slice of fresh or pickled jalepeno, a dab of cream cheese, and wrap up with the bacon. Skewer with a splint of sugarcane.

    I grill these on a pit of oak and cypress coals.

    I dare you to eat only one.

  26. Debby W.

    Here’s a tasty duck recipe that’s from Sichuan Chinese cooking. I’m guessing that it won’t fit with the general ambiance of the restaurant, but you should try it sometime for your own personal enjoyment.

    Crispy Duck with Sichuan Peppercorn Salt

    Trim excess fat from duck
    Rub all over with Sichuan Peppercorn Salt (see below)
    Steam for 1-2 hours (traditionally 2 hours for very soft but hard to fry duck)

    Next step is easier if you refrigerate the duck and let it cool for a while so it has some structural integrity.

    Fill a wok with about 3-4 inches of oil. Pan fry the duck until golden brown, one side at a time. I usually use two big spatulas to handle and flip the duck, often putting one in the hole in the duck at the bottom.

    Serve whole, with dipping containers filled with the Sichuan Peppercorn Salt for diners to dip the meat into. At the end, the meat should be crispy, but tender enough to be pulled off of the carcass with a set of chopsticks.

    Sichuan Peppercorn Salt:
    Combine over very high heat in a pan:
    ~1/4 C salt
    ~3 T red sichuan peppercorns

    Stir until peppercorns start to blacken and smoke and change the color of the salt. Strain off the peppercorns with a metal strainer and keep the salt.

  27. Deanne Katz

    I have no recipe, but would like enter two friends for the free tickets. My boyfriend and I are already planning to come to dinner (for full price) and we’re staying with friends who just moved to Sacramento. They’re a couple; he’s finishing his PhD, she just started medical school. Money is tight and I know these last few months have been stressful as they adjust to a new community and the pressures of med school (and living with a med student). This event isn’t in their budget and we can’t afford to cover them, but I know they would love it and the opportunity for a fancy night out would be a wonderful gift.

  28. Gary

    Oh, I also forgot about the duck hearts stir fried with cumin and served with fresh cilantro! A fab pair! Beer duck is also a classic over here, basically a duck stewed in a mild lager with plenty of ginger, star anise, and a smidge of cassia cinnamon, a bit o’ clove, and some white pepper. A very comforting stew, not to mention flavorful. If there was any chance you could get duck’s blood, i’d have a really unique one for you (but given it kinda looks like a bit of mess on a plate, might not be the right choice for the competition, but definitely one for the home!)

  29. Rick

    Man, I loved this event last year!

    Here’s a recipe for beer-braised duck legs. NOTE: this time of year you could swap out the Chimay for something local – like Rubicon’s Rosebud. The only drawback would be elevate hop character, but the caramelized malts will still be present.

    Step One: Brown Breasts
    -Score 4 duck breasts with sharp knife
    -Sear in hot pan with olive oil till legs are browned

    Step Two: Braise
    In oven-safe pot sauté
    • 2 sliced leeks
    • 2 diced onions
    • 2 sliced celery stocks
    • 2 chopped carrots
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    Sauté ingredients only till they are soft and slightly translucent – do not brown

    • 1/3 cup orange juice (fresh is best)
    • 1 12-ounce bottle of Chimay Red (or comparable Belgian-styled double – dark, malty)
    - Bring ingredients to a simmer, and then add browned wings. If needed, add additional beer or water to cover wings.

    - Place in preheated 350 degree oven and cook 2 hours, or until fall-off-the-bone tender.

    Serve alongside steamed Swiss Chard tossed with olive oil and your favorite table vinegar, topped with lemon zest.

    General Duck Pairing Suggestions & Tips
    Suggest pairing any duck dish with a malt-forward beer like a doppelbock (Celebrator), or perhaps more Chimay (or other Belgian dubble/double). Avoid beers like IPAs and Pilsners, as the hops will run over the tangy and savory notes of the duck. You will find that beer is best to pair with duck, too, as the carbonation will cleanse the palate between bites and the caramelized sugars in the dark beer will compliment the flavors of the dish masterfully.

  30. Bbq Dude
  31. Duck…Duck…Duel! | Girls on the Grid

    [...] more info, check out Hank’s post on this year’s competition and a re-cap of last year’s! Share and [...]

  32. Celery Root - -

    [...] duck-dining. Hank Shaw (Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook) and Michael Tuohy (of Grange Restaurant) were battling Iron Chef-style. The secret ingredient? Duck. Hank’s got a great write-up of the evening on his blog, and I [...]

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