Stretch those ducky meals! I’ve heard some people complaining about the lack of birds during the late season for waterfowl in New York state. Due to the warm weather, the big flocks just weren’t down here yet. Scarce times call for using every bit of a hard-earned quarry. The legs of just four mallards and a black duck can make a delicious dinner for a family of four. I adapted the following recipe from Daniel Boulud’s recipe found in Boone and Crockett’s Wild Gourmet cookbook. The meat was so flavorful and just fell off the bone. This is a keeper!
Duck Legs with Green Olives
10 wild duck legs (from 5 birds) with some fat and skin still on when possible
4 strips of good bacon
1 cup diced onion, about 1 medium
1 cup diced carrot, about 3 whole
1 cup of diced turnips, 2 small turnips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup pitted green olives, preferably picholine, but I used the best greens ones available at the grocery store olive bar
1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1-2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
1-2 Tbsp vermouth, sweet or dry (optional)
2 cups chicken stock or low sodium broth
Cook bacon in a heavy pot that can transfer to the oven until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set on a plate. When it is cool enough, cut bacon into small pieces. Pour off all but 1-2 Tbsp of the bacon fat from the pot. Sear the duck legs in a single layer in the bacon fat for about 3-5 minutes per side until nicely browned. Remove and set on the plate with the bacon until all the legs are browned. If the legs were particularly fatty, pour off all but 1 Tbsp excess fat from the pan. Add the vegetables, herbs, and spices to the pan. Saute for a few minutes. Add the vermouth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot or just use some of the stock to do the same. Add the stock or broth to the pot and add the bacon and duck back in. Stir to combine. Cover the pot with a good fitting lid and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours. The meat should fall easily from the bone.