The good ole days…that’s what we baby boomers say when we talk about how much simpler life was growing up, especially without all this high tech stuff surrounding us.
How simple you may ask? So simple, that I began my hunting experience by becoming a professional guide at the Eagle Lake Rod and Gun Club on the waters of Eagle Lake in Texas. When not guiding people like Richard ‘Racehorse’ Haynes, an attorney out of Houston or Dr. Denton Cooley, a heart surgeon from Houston calling ducks to land outside our blind, I was taking the ducks and geese killed back to A&M University to help me survive during my tenure there.
At A&M, when not studying, Joe Rau and Jack Etheridge out of Columbus, Texas would come back from the weekend with packages and packages of deer meat, Javelina, and squirrel. I would come back on Sunday night and bring packages of goose and duck, and a few oddball meats such as bullfrogs and alligator. On Monday and Wednesday, I would cook duck or goose and on Tuesday and Thursday, Joe and Jack would cook venison, Javelina and other animals you might be disgusted with (Armadillo). No matter, it all went well with a cold brew and the first season of Monday Night Football.
You see, none of us had much money and did not go out to eat. Instead of buying a dollar hot dog at the corner UTOTEM every night, one of us would cook. No one cooked on Friday as we all headed by home, Joe and Jack to Columbus and me, back over to Eagle Lake where Racehorse and Denton awaited another exciting early morning hunting over the decoys, and Peppie, my wonderful golden retriever, by my side.
Well, enough with how I got started. The truth is, my love for wild game of all sorts has me here writing about some of the great recipes for cooking ducks, pheasants, dove, geese, and others wild fowl.
Most wild ducks are excellent for eating. Geese have a reputation of being undeservedly greasy, livery and, many times, tough. While this is true, a wild goose can be just like one of those tender eating ducks, if one prepares it correctly.
Oh, and let’s give credit where credit is due. While attending A&M, I would go home on the weekends and learn how to cook almost anything imaginable from Pappa Joe Dick Perry outside of Columbus. His talents were in fixing deer and fish. It was his wife who taught me my first recipe with duck and rice. Oh, my goodness, I fell in love with duck and from that day forward, every time “Mamma Celia” would prepare the duck and goose I brought her, I learned a different recipe.
Slow cooking waterfowl is one of the best ways to prepare. Duck and Goose legs are not as tough as pheasant legs, primarily because they do not do as much walking around. However, their wings can get pretty tough.
Now, take it from me, I brought “Mamma Celia” a mess of ducks to fix my favorite, ducks and rice. I had just shot them early in the morning – some beautiful mallards, pintails, and teal. I helped her in the kitchen prepare the birds and they began a slow cook in the oven. Oh, my God…the smell was not as I was accustom to great wild ducks cooking in the oven.
You see…I brought her a spoonbill duck. You see, a spoonbill eats moss and green “junk” off the bottom of the lakes and not rice from the rice fields. They are a diver, much like a Scaup, Goldeneye, or even a Brant. Don’t get me wrong, these ducks are good to eat, but they must really be prepared by a brine solution of salt, sugar and garlic. The fat from these birds, if not prepared right and soaked, will RUIN the entire meal.
Well, let’s not waste any more time. Let’s get to the recipes.
If you wish, domestic ducks from your neighborhood grocery can be fixed the same way as the wild fowl, but it is absolutely essential after you thaw them out, you remove all of the body cavity fat. These domestic birds are raised to have fat on them. When I say that, lots and lots of fat that you NEED to remove all of the body cavity fat before cooking.