Wild Duck recipes

Joined Sep 29, 2009
So I was out hunting over the weekend with my dad for the first time in years.  And since it's been years, I only managed to bag one duck /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif.

Anyway, my parents only have recipe they use for duck (sweet and sour), and I was looking to try something different.  So is there anyone out there that have a good recipe for wild duck?  It's only the breast, and since this is the first time my girlfriend will have ever tried duck, I'd like it to be focal point of our little meal.  Thanks!
Joined Aug 6, 2010
Just a couple of questions. What species of duck is it? Is it a coastal duck, or was it a plains duck? (in other words, did it eat grains or fish) Those two parameters are what I use to decide what I want to do with a wild duck.
Joined May 5, 2010
I cook wild duck often. Mostly wood ducks.....Cooking wild duck can be tricky. Cooking the breast until "done" makes it taste like liver, so your going to make sure you go medium rare to just medium. Mostly there will not be a lot of fat so you it would be best to utilize some in order to keep it moist while cooking. Butter, oil, bacon grease all work well. Slathering the breast first helps this way. Season well with salt and pepper.

Fruit sauces go very well with wild duck. Let us know what you did.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
This is my favorite simple preparation of duck breast.  You will need:

- 1 tbsp honey

- allspice


1. Score the duck breast  deeply but not into the meat.

2. Place the breast skin side down (no seasonings yet) in a cold pan.

3. Place the pan on a low/medium heat.  The fat will start to cook out.  Scoop it out immediately into a little bowl as it renders.  Continue to do this until only a thin layer of fat remains on the duck breast.  Keep the heat on low so that the fat will melt, not burn.

4. Season the duck breast with salt/pepper and allspice on both sides.

5. Turn over skin side up and season this side as well, then drizzle with honey.

6. Place in a 375 oven for about 10 minutes or until desired doneness (I like it medium).

Rest and serve.  You can serve it with sweet mashed potato and ssauteed bokchoy.

Don't forget about the duck fat!  Let it cool and then put it in the freezer for later use.  It's excellent with pan roasted potatoes.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Every wild duck has its own flavor profile, starting, as Tyler indicates, with the group it belongs to. Only I'd take it a step further than he did, because, among "inland" ducks, divers and puddle ducks have distinctly different tastes because they eat different things. The strongest flavor will be found in sea ducks, the mildest in puddle ducks that have been eating domestic grains.

And even the puddle ducks can taste differently. For example, wood ducks have a nuttiness that mallards lack.

Once you tell us what kind of duck you have, we'll also need another question answered: What do you mean by just the breast? Is it just the filets---that is, the chunks of meat, with no skin? Or did you pluck them before removing the breasts? Or do they have the bone still attached? All this, too, can seriously effect how you cook them.

All that aside, if this is your GF's first time with wild duck, I would definately go with something on the sweetish and/or fruity side. Perhaps something like:

Roast Duck Breast with Pineapple Chutney

(note: ingredients are based on 4-6 bone-in, skin-on duck breast halves (i.e., 2-3 ducks), so adjust accordingly)


2 tsp chili paste

3 tbls soy sauce

3 tbls lime juice

1 tbls honey

1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Duck breasts


1 1/2 cups cubed pineapple

1/2 tsp lime zest

Pulp of a large lime

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 tbls chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 tbls chopped jalapeno pepper

2 tbls golden raisins

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 tbls white wine vinegar

Mix all marinade ingredienents in a large bowl or plastic bag. Add duck breasts to marinade, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Meanwhile, bring all the chutney ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until fruit is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat grill (preferred) or broiler when chutney is almost done.

Grill or broil the breasts five minutes on each side, until a light crust forms, and meat inside is still slightly pink.

Slice each breast half into medallions. Fan these out on a serving plate. Spoon chutney over each serving.
Joined Aug 6, 2010
KY is spot on with divers vs. puddle ducks (we call those openwater or field ducks). Telling us the species should tell us which of the two it would be, although some species will fall in both categories.

Where I tend to disagree with some previous posters is on trying to sweeten up or somewhat mask the flavor of the duck. Unless you have a scaup or poule d'eu, I would highly recommend that it be prepared as simply as possible, and if you use any supplementary fat (you will most likely need to) I would suggest duck fat. That way, your girlfriend will be able to experience duck and know if she likes it or not. By adding all kinds of fruits and whatever, I think you defeat the purpose of serving something new and different to someone. That's not to say that it's wrong to have a chutney served with it, just be careful to let the duck be center stage.

Again, more info needed if you want the best suggestions from us.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Tyler is right -- simple is best.  Chefross is right, wild duck typically doesn't have much fat and you probably won't be able to do the things Koukouvagia suggests.  

Try grilling it to med-rare -- a grill pan is fine, but over charcoal would be ideal.  A little bit of char is one of the best of all possible seasonings you can put on wild fowl.  A dry rub of salt, pepper, and "Chinese five spice" would be a simple and effective prep before grilling. 

You can serve it with any of a variety of sauces ranging from savory to sweet; stock, tomato, fruit, wine, whatever.  You could mix a cup of your favorite commercial barbecue sauce with a cup of chicken stock, a cup of dry Riesling or Gewurtz Traminer, and reducing it back down (probably by about half) until you like the consistency.

Speaking of which, a dry Riesling or Traminer would be a very good accompaniment. 

Wild duck is adaptable to tons of different garnishes.  If you decide what you'd like to serve it with, that will help you choose the sauce.  Lots of wonderful autumnal possibilities.   Steamed brussel sprouts, finished in bacon fat garnished with bacon, and a puree of parsnip and potato would be very nice.  Spatzle are nice with wild duck, as is rice/wild-rice, and broad noodles.  If you're doing noodles with sauce, you'll want to use something which compliments duck -- butter, onions, wine, tarragon and sourcream for instance -- and forget saucing the duck separately.   

Joined Aug 6, 2010
Speaking of which, a dry Riesling or Traminer would be a very good accompaniment. 
While I might agree for some preparations of domesticated duck, I much prefer cabernet sauvignon with wild duck (especially grilled). However, I find with wild duck there are a lot of red wines that work, depending on the preparation. That's not to say that whites wouldn't work. Riesling or Traminer would definitely be good with it, but I prefer cab or even pinot when grilling duck.
Joined Sep 29, 2009
Wow, glad to see so many interesting replies!  To answer some questions: we're working with a inland diver duck, and I only have the fillets (no bone/skin).  I was intending to grill it (perhaps over coals) and serve it over something.  However, my lack of experience cooking wild game, duck in particular, has been leading me to a lot of indecision.  I wanted to do some bacon fat-fried root vegetables, as I have plenty of bacon in the fridge and local roots are here, and have had the duck in brine for a couple days..  I was trying to stay away from predominantly sweet flavor, but maybe a pureed vegetable sauce would be nice.  Any other suggestions would be much appreciated!
Joined Aug 6, 2010
It's unfortunate that there's no skin or bone. It will be tricky to grill only the filets. Since wild duck is best served on the rare side of medium-rare, you will have to pay really close attention to make sure it doesn't get overcooked. It will go from juicy and delicious to dry and liver-tasting in the blink of an eye. You could wrap it in bacon, but I think it's a cop out when grilling birds. The fat from the bacon will also mask the flavor of the duck.

Since it's a diver (most likely redhead or scaup?), it may be a bit fishy tasting, and more ideal for gumbo or fricassee, but I would encourage you to grill it since your girlfriend has never had wild duck. Since you only have two small filets, I would suggest making a risotto to go with it. Not only is risotto extremely delicious with duck, but it will also help the dish "go further". A risotto that incorporates cranberries or raspberries would be nice because the acidity will cut through the fishy taste of the duck. I've made cranberry risotto with grilled mallard, and really liked the combination.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
As an aside, Tyler, it's rough making generalizations when it comes to waterfowl.

Like you, I always believed divers 1. ate fish, and 2. were stronger tasting than puddle ducks. Then I moved to the upper Midwest, where they referred to scaup as "butterballs." WTF? Back east the last thing I'd think of eating was a bluebill.

Turns out, though, that the birds had come down via Minnasota, eating wild rice all the way. So they were plump, juicy, and with nary a hint of fishyness. And, like the group I hunted with, I learned to prefer them to mallards.

Let's not forget, too, that what made redheads and canvasback so popular in the market hunting days was that they fed on the wild sea celery of the Susquhanna Flats, which is what gave them their distinctive flavor. Again, no fishyness.

The OP says these were "inland divers." That being the case, who knows what they've been eating?
Joined Aug 6, 2010
Fair enough, KY. All I can go on is my experience in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. I've also hunted in South Dakota, but it was just once. Anyway, the divers here are on more of a fish diet. I would assume that is because at no time in Louisiana would a transient duck not be close to permanent water. And don't get me wrong, I actually like divers. However, for making wild duck for the first time for someone, it wouldn't be the most ideal, in my mind.

Funny you should mention canvasbacks. The lake where we hunt in central Louisiana is the mecca of canvasbacks. In fact, one study I read said that since 1985, over 75% of all canvasbacks in North America winter on this lake. I count myself as lucky to be one of few who has seen a raft of hundreds of canvasbacks get up off the water.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Wow! I'm jealous! Never saw more than a handful of Cans in any one place.

In the old days, on the East Coast, the Reds were so numerous they didn't talk about flocks, but of smokes. So many birds milling about they looked like a column of smoke on the horizen, you see. I was fortunate to come up at the tail end of that plentitude, and was able to brag about seeing smokes. But just for a short while. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif

Of course, you guys are spoiled. For a number of years I made an annual waterfowling trip to south Louisiana. It's a whole nuther world down there, and sometimes seems every duck in the world is wintering in the delta.

But, while ducks are fine, I'm a goose hunter at heart. If there's anything that fires the blood like a pod of Canda geese, wings cupped and feet pointing at you as they drop into the blocks, I don't know what it could be.
Joined Nov 23, 2009
As noted, the variety of duck has a lot to do with how best to prepare it.  If it has had a grain diet, treat it like a fine steak.  If you prefer your beef medium rare, grill your duck breast to rare, basting with red wine and butter.  Season with salt and pepper prior to grilling.

I opened the duck season this past weekend with my son and nine year old grandson.  It was a slow morning, but we ended up with four teal.  I prepared them for a late breakfast by chicken frying the breast filets and serving them with biscuits and cream gravy.  This has been a family favorite for years.  They need to be a little pink for best results, like with doves. 

I can also tell you from past personal results that KYH has some outstanding duck recipes. 
Joined Aug 6, 2010
KY, you were hunting about 30 minutes from where I grew up. Glad to see you had a good time in Louisiana.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
You know, Tyler, it's impossible for anyone who's into the outdoors to not have a great time in Louisiana. 'Cept everytime I head down that way I gain about 25 pounds.
Joined Oct 22, 2008
I have 2 wild duck breasts and two small whole ducks (from a hunter friend).  I was planning to brown them then braise with red wine (pinot noir) and herbs de Provence.  It's a recipe that I've made with domestic duck and it's delicious.  Will it work with wild duck??  Thanks

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