I spent all day yesterday recipe testing. My freezer had gotten unruly and I had declared that nothing else was allowed in it so that all of the game meat I had collected since September could have a proper home until I could test it all for the “Girl Hunter” book.
That has been the rule, strictly enforced with a deer antler.
But then I decided I wanted my freezer back. It was looking ragged. So I got bold. I took everything out and put it in a giant metal bowl and defrosted it and gave myself two days to test every recipe that needed to be tested.
I recruited a friend who had naively offered to help. She has now gone where few other women have gone before… meat wise. There were elk stuffed cabbage rolls, and corned elk, and venison jerky, and quail kabobs, and javelina chili, and Moroccan venison stew, and juniper poached pheasant, and the list goes on.
And as we did, we tried to come up withe the subtitle for the “Girl Hunter” book… ie. redefining slow food, one hunt at a time… antler to tail… one wild chefs romp… it got interesting as the day wore on. If you have any subtitle ideas, shout ’em out in the comments!
We’re going in for round two today.
So while I cook my little soul out, I thought I’d share a recipe on how to confit duck so that you can make that wild duck terrine I posted a few weeks ago. It is time to make the duck terrine.
It is time.
The story begins with two duck legs, preferably with the skin on. With wild ducks, you can’t always be picky, but this picture is not of a wild duck leg, therefore you can be picky and demand skin on your legs.
In December, while duck hunting in New Orleans, I confited a lot of duck parts, including the livers and hearts. I highly recommend that as well. As an afternoon snack or in a terrine.
Duck fat. Also important. I sorted through my refrigerator and found some strange looking mason jars yesterday, filled with all kinds of fats, from duck fat, to leaf lard (awesome for pies!) to fat back that my butcher gave me cause he’s a flirt. There was also some homemade yogurt which the quail are currently taking a bath in before they turn into kabobs.
Nevertheless, you can render your own duck fat. It is cheaper and lasts a long time in your refrigerator and comes in handy.
You’ll want to expose the leg bone to help the cure.
Simply cut around it with a paring knife and pull it up with your fingers.
Then make a mixture of salt and spices and a few crushed garlic cloves. If you’re feeling feisty, you can also add orange and lemon zest and even a bit of star anise.
Sprinkle the mixture on to the duck, generously.
On the skin side as well.
Give it a few turns of pepper too.
Lay the garlic in the skillet with the flesh side down. Then you cover it all and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Once you retrieve it, you rinse the legs very well and add a healthy dollop of duck fat, enough to come up the sides and cover the exposed flesh. The skin will crisp on its own and render additional fat for the pan.
And this is what you have when it’s all over.
The skin is crispy and salty.
And the meat just shreds from the bone in a buttery kind of way. You may just it eat all on the spot like I er… may have.
Here’s a recipe for my fancy version. You can keep it simple or play with flavorings, as long as you have the fat and the salt.