It is duck hunting season in New York State, and the regulations have changed a bit this 2019/2020 waterfowl season. There has been a decline in mallards in the Atlantic Flyway and northeastern United States. In an effort to stabilize the eastern mallard population, daily bag limits have been decreased from 4 birds (2 of which could be hens) to a total of 2 mallard per day (1 of which can be a hen). These conservation efforts will hopefully help sustain mallard populations.
It is often debated whether wild duck should be eaten with the skin left on or taken off. Any mercury, PCB’s or chemicals most often reside in the fat/skin of waterfowl. If you have concerns of potential pollutants (i.e. golf course dwellers or contaminated waterways) it is best to remove the skin off the waterfowl. Also make sure to remove any pellets from the meat to protect your teeth!
The following recipe is an excellent way to cook up mallard breasts and stretch the meat to feed more people! It can be made as an appetizer or served as a main course.
Garlic Sauteed Duck Breast with Brie
2 duck breast halves from a single duck, skinless. Puddlers preferred, such as wood duck, mallard, or black duck
6-8 cloves small garlic
2-3+ Tbsp olive oil (replenish as necessary to keep bottom of pan coated)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of Brie-style cheese
Cast iron or similar skillet, right sized to just fit duck breasts
Clean duck breast from any feathers, silver skin, and/or stray pellets. Pat dry. Remove skin if desired, with a sharp fillet knife. Gently pull up the skin and pull back while running your fillet knife against the skin.
Add olive oil to saute pan to evenly coat the bottom with about 1/8″ of oil. Heat pan to medium heat. Add garlic cloves. Cook until just slightly golden in color, ensuring the pan is not too hot to the point that they start to burn or turn brown (this would make the garlic bitter). Gently press the garlic with a wooden spoon. They should be somewhat soft and fragrant before moving to the next step.
Lay the duck breasts on top of the garlic cloves. Season with a sprinkle of freshly ground sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and cook for about 4 to 8 minutes until you can see the meat has turned brown just on the bottom edge.
Flip the duck breasts, sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes more.
Thanks to Keith G. Tidball for supplying the recipe and the duck breast.