There are three ways to think about cooking wild game. One is to enhance the flavor of the meat with various complementary sauces. Duck a l’orange is a perfect example of taking a game bird and elevating it to haute cuisine.
A second way is to process the meat by smoking. Bob Locke, local Ducks Unlimited director, smokes duck breasts in a chamber smoker for 15 minutes using cherrywood or pecan, to an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees. The results are mouth-watering.
“It’s hard to keep from eating smoked duck just as it comes out of the smoker,” Locke said.
A third method is to make sausage. When grinding game meat into sausage, it’s all about the ratio of meat to fat. In this case, mix duck with ground pork, three to one. This mixture could be formed into balls and substituted for the meat in a pasta dish with a good marinara or alfredo sauce.
However you prepare it, incorporate the duck meat into any favorite recipe to kick it up. Here is an adventurous pan of nachos for snacking on game day, made with hunter-harvested duck sausage.
Preferably, use a green tomatillo and chile salsa in this recipe. The acidity complements all the richness of the crema, duck and cheese.
Serves 6 to 8.
- 3 cups duck breast fillets, (can be from puddlers, skin removed), cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces for grinding
- 1 cup ground pork or spicy pork chorizo
- 1-2 tablespoons cold water, depending on moisture in meat mixture
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust depending on the spice level of chorizo)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable, coconut or olive oil (use rendered duck fat if you have some handy)
- 1 10- to 12-ounce bag tortilla chips (best to use ‘restaurant style’)
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Mexi-blend cheese
Grind duck meat, mix with ground pork/chorizo to add fat, add water and spices. Mix. Brown in skillet with enough oil/fat to prevent sticking. Arrange chips, sprinkle meat mixture on top, add cheese. Bake in a 375-degree oven until cheese is melted.
Top with guacamole, fresh salsa, crema, sliced jalapeños, chopped cilantro.
Variation: You can use smoked duck breast instead of the sausage mixture in this recipe.