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22 responses to “Roast Wild Duck”

  1. Peter

    I want to try that slow 30 at 300. I remember many years ago my host telling me he was going to cook our ducks as he always did, at least 30 minutes. I resigned myself to the gloomy thought that tender shoe leather would be the outcome, that no duck should stay in an oven that long. I poured me another glass of wine. But, miracle of miracles, the ducks came out just as you said!

    But who in this world prepares a whole snow or Ross’s when they are that hard to pluck? Nope, they come under the scalpel with me, saving breasts. legs, livers, hearts and gizzards. Have not yet tried tongues

  2. Linda

    With these cooking times, stuffing seems a near impossibility. Any thoughts on how to include the stuffing (including sausagemeat), maybe by pre-cooking? Am making wild duck (hopefully stuffed) for dinner tomorrow so any tips ASAP will be gratefully received.

  3. Chris

    I found your website two weeks ago after shooting my first duck (male Hooded Merganser). I decided to try this roasted duck recipe to see how it would taste. Interesting. It had a strong smell as it cooked (fishy?). I’m guessing it has to do with it’s diet. Anyway, I was hoping for that crispy skin and tender breast, but you’re right about the compromise. The taste was strong, but not overwhelming. I also had a hard time getting the internal temperature up to 145F after 20 minutes even with the oven at 520F.
    Great site! I’ll be stopping by often.

    Chris

  4. Joel

    I thought the same thing about the Hooded Merganser! Kudos!!
    I would just add for those starting out.. I like to get all the stuff out of the body cavity when dressing a roasting duck by splitting it down the back,(once its plucked and singed)from neck to tail, clean out the kidneys/lungs from the ribs etc and it still looks great roasted breast side up. Hank, you’re doing the world of new hunters a big favor with this blog. Whats the point if its not good to eat? Am I the only one who uses a propane torch to singe after dry plucking?

  5. Linda

    Thanks!

  6. J.G.Hovey

    Thank you for posting this. I may be going out duck hunting for the first time this year, and I love well-made duck… problem is, I have little experience making duck and the few times I bought it I borked it. But your advice seems solid and I’m excited to try it.

    One comment I have about the fishy taste of mersangers, is I wonder if a better result would be had if mersangers were treated as a fish dish. I love squid in thai curry (it has to be the Maesri brand for me, and if I wasn’t using squid I was using chicken). I also loved eating fish stews in Japan (where the heads of the fish stared at you and the shells were all attached to everything), canned sardines in oil with olives, etc… But I’m not really sure what is referred to as a fishy taste… sometimes that means an ammonia taste, as in rotting fish?

  7. geofowl

    Hank –

    Agree with you regarding roasting a Giant Canada, not good…I do have a question tho’, do have a method for rendering fat from a skinned goose (or fat mallard for that matter)? With our liberal Canada goose limit it seems a shame to lose all that fat to skinning.

  8. Pavel

    Thank you for posting these guidelines. In them you mention a number of species of duck and goose that I take are North American. Coming from the other side of the pond, however, I was wondering what you think is the best way of cooking a greylag of around 4lbs. Is that considered a small bird that is, therefore, suitable for roasting whole or should one remove the breasts halfway to stop them overcooking?

  9. Devin

    I like to throw my oven over to high broil for the last couple minutes…does wonders to crisp that skin up right at the end.

  10. hallucigenia

    For those wishing to start such a recipe but have a bird that’s too fat, the trick used in both Cantonese (shao ya) and Peking/Beijing duck roasting technique is to blanch the duck for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water before glazing and roasting it. Haven’t done this myself but it’s probably worth a try.

  11. Nancy Rifkind

    My son shot us a nice goose today. His father insists that it is not safe to eat the skin in a wild bird as all the toxins are held in the fat. We live on Long Island NY a suburb of NYC. I guess it is probably not the most pristine environment but it is not in Times Square either. They are non-migrating birds. What does anyone think? It is air drying in the fridge to cook in 4 days. Help, I need answers soon!

  12. Erin

    I’m glad I your website! My girlfriend shot a couple of mergansers last season and I don’t have much experience with cooking game meat. I cut it up today and whipped up a marinade for them. It has such a fishy smell! I didn’t know if that was right. I’m making Asian tacos with the mergansers but I look forward to trying the mallard that’s still in the freezer. I’m excited to explore you website more. Thanks!

  13. Mark

    Here is a list of other ducks I won’t shoot because they are hard to eat: all mergansers (though hoodies are the best of a bad bunch, golden eye, spoonies (northern shoveler), all sea ducks: eider, scoter etc. We take occasionally under duress: scaup and wigeon. Big canadas are a favorite because we don’t have to pluck, just breast to make jerky and heavily marinated satay out of the breast, and save up the legs and thighs to crock pot into “pulled goose” sandwich meat.

  14. Nissa

    As far as cooking fish ducks goes they are certainly stronger than a good Mallard but I have found that a good strong marinade will make them palatable. I use mine in a peanut sauce stir fry with soy sauce, ginger, red pepper, and peanut butter. This combination actually makes for a terrific flavor. If you do pull down a Merganser, Goldeneye, of Bufflehead I would give it a try.

  15. Alex

    For mergansers use above recipe in a cedar plank. Pull out of the oven, discard the duck and eat the cedar plank! You’ll be better off than eating a merganser.

  16. Ryan

    When it comes to the stronger tasting divers like mergansers I’ve had some great success with simply breasting the birds slicing up some garlic cloves tossing that into a pan with some olive oil or butter. Pepper salt or something like an all seasoning mix. Adding some sweet red wine to the pan as well. I’ve dished up coot breasts in a similar fashion and merganser for guests and no one was the wiser. No fishy taste not overly gamey. The wine is cheap concord Mogan David nothing special and it definitely does not over power the bird. I decided to get brave one day and try eating mergs and coot. I wanted to know if they were as truly awful as their reputation defined them to be and I was pleasantly surprised as were those who ate them with me.

  17. Robert

    Forgot the celery stalks at the market last night. We substituted sliced red onion. Put them back in the oven to fry in the fat while the pintail rested. Worked out great! Thanks Hank, you’re my new hero!

    P.S. Duck, Duck, Goose was on the display/resource table at the CDFW Advanced Hunter Ed Game Care & Cooking Clinic that was in Santa Clara County in September.

  18. Roy Harsch

    Mergancers and Coot are not ducks and they have wildly differing diets. I was raised that if you shoot it you eat it or give it to someone ready to eat who will eat it. As a young boy the urge to shoot something when the duck hunting was slow was hard to contain. Now a Mergancer is a mistake looking into the sun. Finding anyone who would or will take a Mergancer and actually eat it was impossible so I learned to eat them. Coot on the other hand were welcome by some people as they were by our family. Breasts marinated and then sauted and served rare with a sprinkle of sauted onion or shallots. Legs and gizzards went into the gumbo pot. Mergancers, marinated and then deep fried were tolerable. Shot some Buffies layout hunting a week or two ago in Door County, Wisconsin. These were the fattest wild ducks I have ever cleaned even the body cavities were full of fat. How would they fare sauted in your duck breast receipe? In the midwest spoonies seem to run about 10 good tasting to 1 that has a “foul” taste. With their numbers increasing they make a good addition to the hunt as they decoy nicely,and my lab is more than willing to retrieve them.

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