Cooking ducks is easier than harvesting them!

By Jonathan Bowman

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The cost of buying a duck in a grocery store or online ranges from $20 to $100.

I have no idea how much a fancy restaurant might charge for a wild wooden duck. I’d be willing to bet the dish would be at least $50 for half a duck.

However, I spent this past Monday morning in the hearty mixture of sleet and rain in temperatures as low as 30 degrees. We saw a lot of ducks but couldn’t get them into the shooting range. However, the difficult conditions that accompany duck hunting give many hunters a strong incentive to use as much of their hard-earned birds as possible.

One of the easiest ways to use the whole bird is to cook the whole bird. It sounds simple enough, and due to the wonderful flavors found in most duck meat, the preparation can be as simple as salting a cut bird. You can use the oven, smoker, or even the grill to roast whole ducks. I wanted to start small, so we will be looking at cooking one duck breast with intact skin (plucking).

Oh, and a quick tip: If it’s below 45 degrees or so, you can hang your birds up for a few days in the shade of the garage, back porch, or anywhere else your cat won’t steal. People more experienced than me have written entire chapters of books on aging birds, and it seems safe to keep them that way for up to a week. The best part is that you can hang the birds without plucking or cutting them. Obviously you would never do this with a large game animal like deer, but with ducks and geese cooling off quickly enough that field dressing is an option later in the week. It’s also perfectly fine to dress up a duck or goose and then let it age, as my good friend Clay prefers.

So, let’s cook duck breast.

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Jonathan Bowman lives in Amelia County, where he spends as much time as possible hunting, fishing and cooking. Jonathan loves to share his passion with others, and is determined to persuade his wife one day to join him on the turkey hunt.

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