As some of you know it’s been a long year for me, building my own shed and working a couple jobs have cut down on my cooking and my blogging time but that is all about to change. The shed is mostly done and I’m getting hungry. Time to get back on the grill and griddle.
I really enjoy taking a cut of meat that others might turn their nose up at and make it a true five star meal, now I’m not talking about Raccoon biscuits and gravy or Opossum stew, not quite that adventurous but I certainly don’t turn down a chance to grill some diver ducks. Canvas Back’s are on the menu tonight!
I will admit you can’t simply salt and pepper diver ducks and grill them, you’ll likely get a tougher dryer piece of duck that can conjure up tastes of fish. That being said, handle them properly and they’ll surprise and delight you. Marinating duck is a must for me, I like to use olive oil, lime juice, wine, some oriental type seasonings are always nice, maybe some garlic too. The actual seasoning isn’t as important as having the critical oil, acidity from lime or lemon, a touch of vinegar, I prefer rice wine vinegar on duck, and some ground mustard seed, or mustard powder, this will tenderize an old shoe if given a few days.
Marinate for two days and save the marinade as you will pour it over the kabobs once skewered and before grilling. Slice up some onion and orange wedges and skewer accordingly. Once kabobbed cover with remaining marinade and season salt and black pepper to liking. Let rest until grill is good and hot.
Now to make a reduction to glaze over the top, this does a few things, it adds another dimension of flavor and helps seal in the moisture and keeps the kabobs from drying out once pulled off grill. I like to use cranberries on turkey or pheasant but prefer cherries on duck. Pit the cherries and chop fine with knife or run through food processor. Start in sauce pan over medium heat, add a sprinkle of sugar, a squeeze of lime juice and a chunk of orange peel. Most importantly add a touch of Amaretto to help liquefy and transform the cherries in to a sauce. If you don’t have Amaretto, I’m sure a little bourbon or even a beer or wine would suffice in a bind, but be sure to cook all the alcohol out. This will start off as a very tart, thick mixture, then thin out and cherries melt down and then over low heat will thicken up again, if too liquid for your liking you can add corn starch (I don’t like too). Give it time so simmer, it’s like making gravy the more time and patience you show it the better it will be, don’t burn it either. You can set it aside and let cool until grilling is done and then heat back up minutes before serving.
The reduction is really the hardest part but it’s payoff in flavor, texture and moistness are worth the effort. Now you can grill the kabobs, and honestly the onions will take longer than the duck you want medium at most on the duck the onions will just be charring on the tips and oranges soft and gelatin like, the peels may flame up so watch the grill.
Plate up as fancy as you like or just it if off the grill with buddies at hunting camp. It goes well with a darker full bodied drink, Red wine or even a cold cola to offset the many citrus tastes in the dish.
Don’t turn you nose up at Duck, learn to cook it and you will most definitely learn to love it, Puddle ducks are even better, and remember in New York City this dish goes for about $35 a plate so even if you used three shotgun shells per bird you are money ahead right?
Until next time, God bless,
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander