Wild Mallard Duck with Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mallard Duck with Mushroom Risotto

I love eating duck, especially wild duck.  Mallard is the most plentiful and the most popular, but others like the wood duck, teal, and widgeon are also excellent.  There are many other species of wild duck that are top shelf for the table.  And, with a beaver pond (and my duck blind) only 200 yards from my back door, eating duck is a common occurrence for me throughout the fall and winter.

Wild duck can be dry as it’s very lean, whereas domestic ducks are fat as hell, so they rarely come out on the dry side.  So, the key for this roasted duck recipe is something called braising, which is a moist cooking method where the liquid will slowly tenderize and flavour the meat.  You must cover the roasting pan with a lid.

In the picture, along with the risotto, you’ll see potatoes, carrots and parsnips, which I steamed.  Pick your favourite vegetables and just friggin’ do it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 wild duck (should feed 2 people)
  • 1 – 750 ml bottle red wine (any cheap shit will do)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 or 4 fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 regular sized cooking onions, rough chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 3 carrots, rough chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Place a roasting pan (a cast iron Dutch oven is hard to beat) on the stove top and bring it to a fairly high heat.  Add some olive oil and then add all of the onion, celery, carrots and garlic.  Pinch in some salt and pepper.  Let all of this cook for about five minutes, stirring, until beginning to sweat down a bit and gain some colour.  Note – the onions, celery and carrots (mirepoix) are there to enhance flavour and will be discarded when the duck is finished cooking.)

Clean your duck thoroughly, and place it the roasting pan, breast up, along with the whole bottle of red wine and a few leaves of bay.  Salt & pepper… place the roasting pan in the oven, covered for about two hours.  Check it after one hour and turn it so the breast is down in the wine.  After hour two, check it again and if it’s not super tender, cook it for another 30 minutes or maybe even more.

Risotto

Some people don’t realize that risotto is just a type of rice.  Arborio rice is most often used which is a rounder shaped grain that holds together well and is perfectly suited to making risotto.  And, some people get a little intimidated by the thought of making this popular restaurant dish, but don’t be.  Holy Christ, I’m half nuts and I can do it…

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 pound or so of thinly sliced and chopped mushrooms (Cremini or white button mushrooms both work well, but nearly any kind will do. Use portobello if you’re rich.)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cup of Arborio rice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or finely chopped scallions (green onions)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter ( do NOT use margarine!)
  • Salt & pepper

Okay, let’s rock this risotto!

In a medium sized pot, warm the chicken broth over medium heat.

Heat another pot to medium, then add a good splash of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook them for just a couple of minutes, remove and let rest in a bowl

Add another splash of olive oil, add the rice, stirring constantly (use a wooden spoon) to coat each grain.  Cook for about two minutes or so, until it starts to turn slightly brown.  Your kitchen should smell awesome right about now…

Add the wine and stir constantly until it is fully absorbed.

Now, the “babysitting” part – using a ladle, begin to slowly add the warmed up chicken broth, about a ½ cup at a time.  You must stir constantly… hence, the babysitting part.  Add the broth until your rice is cooked to “al dente” (fancy chef lingo for slightly firm) and so each grain is still distinct.  A common mistake is to want to make it ” really creamy” and it ends up mushy… there will be a little “hold over cooking,” so don’t leave it in the pot too long.  Add the chopped chives.

Note – you may not use all of the chicken broth… then again you may.  It’s not a precise measurement at all.  The whole process could take 20 – 30 minutes or so.

Finish off the heat with the butter and add the mushrooms and shallots.

Done!

“Pound ‘er down!”

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