Cooking Wild Duck

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While I was sitting back enjoying gorgeous food and wine at Savour New Zealand, Ed was sitting in a maimai aiming a gun at ducks.  I generally pay very little interest in this as the thought of shooting and perhpas maiming ducks or leaving a mate without a partner gives me the chills.  If I had to kill my own food I would be a very happy vegetarian.
Due to the stormy weather there was some reluctance to sit and pluck ducks so instead I was presented with a bag of duck breast fillets.  I should probably feel grateful for that as this is the first year in 10 that anything has come home at all!
Fillets without skin and thus fat lend themselves to braises and the duck ragout recipe from Al Brown looks really good so I cooked a variation on this.
It realy was delicious, beautifully rich but not overly so.  I did shred some of the duck meat at the end of cooking.  I found the large pieces a bit too livery for my taste but Ed and his mum didn’t agree at all.  Creamy mash and wilted spinach were perfect accompaniments – as was a good bottle of red!

Duck Ragout

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tub swiss brown mushrooms, halved
1 cup red wine
300 ml good quality chicken stock
600 g wild duck breast fillets, sliced into fingers (skin off)
3 fresh bay leaves
6 fresh sage leaves
3 sprigs thyme
kneaded butter for thickening

Preheat oven to 140 C.
Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole and gently cook the bacon, onion, carrot and celery until the onion is tender.   Increase the heat and add the mushrooms, tossing for a minute or two.  Pour over the red wine and allow to boil and reduce by half.  Add the chicken stock, duck fillets and herbs.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cover and place in the oven, cook for 3 hours, checking on liquid levels at times.
Thicken sauce with butter kneaded with flour.

Serves 4


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3 thoughts on “Cooking Wild Duck

  1. Thank you for this, we made the dish tonight and it was delicious. I understand what you were saying about the livery flavour, we found this texture and flavour lessened when we let it sit for 20. Our 15 year old daughter enjoyed it so much she went back for 2nds. The herbs were all from our garden and the carrots and onions were from local suppliers….the jolly duck came from skies pretty close to ours too…a win, win..thanks for the recipe.