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Hank Shaw is the blogger behind Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and the author of "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast."
"I think daily about new ways to cook and eat anything that walks, flies, swims, crawls, skitters, jumps – or grows," Shaw writes.
"Honest food is what I’m seeking. Nothing packaged, nothing in a box, nothing wrapped in plastic. I eat meat, and I’m not keen on factory farms, so I either hunt it myself or buy it from real people who raise animals humanely."
For Shaw, one food that fits his "honest food" bill is duck.
Five times the quack, five times the yum.
Five Ways to Eat More Duck: Hank Shaw
1. Check your freezer section.
If you are adventurous, you can eke out a fourth meal by using some leftover duck broth and slowly simmer the giblets to make a German specialty called ganseklein, a goose or duck giblet stew served with dried fruit and spices."
2. Buy duck fat.
Creamy, white as a glacier and ever-so-slightly ducky, it makes everything it touches taste better. I’d call it 'duck butter,' but that would be doing duck fat a disservice: The stuff is actually lower in saturated fat than butter. A lot lower.
We render our own from wild ducks, and cook with it all year long. One serving of duck fat-fried potatoes will break most vegetarians. And while you know it’s duck fat, the flavor is not so intense that it will preclude using it in foods you don’t want to taste ducky. I’ve even used it in pastry dough.
One caveat: Because duck and goose fat is so low in saturated fat, it will melt in a warm room. This means if you want to use it in pastry, you will need to take extra precautions to keep everything ice cold."
3. Buy just legs or breasts.
There is nothing quite like searing off a couple duck breasts with a simple pan sauce after a long day at work. You can literally make a fancy-pants, gourmet dinner in 20 minutes: sauce, crusty bread, salad, done. And buying just the legs makes it easier to make your own confit, or to expand your winter braising repertoire. In summer, duck legs are ideal barbecued slow and low."
4. Order it in restaurants.
Duck is fascinating to chefs because, like pork, it is fatty and it has lots of interesting differences to it, depending on breed, species and even part of the animal. Chefs love to play with that.
Take Chef Nobuo Fukuda of Nobuo at Teeter House, a high-end Japanese restaurant in Phoenix: He offers a seared duck salad Japanese-style and foie gras cured in miso and sake, seared hard and served with pears. Chef Michael Smith in Kansas City gets even funkier. Smith offers both fried duck gizzards and duck tongue tacos at his restaurant, Extra Virgin. I could go on, but I’m getting hungry."
5. Hunt it yourself.
And every duck hunter I know will take a fat wild pintail or mallard or canvasback over any domestic duck any day in any week. Imagine the flavor of duck turned up to eleven. That’s how good these birds taste.
I’ve hunted pretty much everything you can hunt in North America, and a fat wild duck ranks up there with anything else the wild world has to offer. But guess what? You can’t buy them, at any price. To enjoy this slice of culinary nirvana, you must hunt it yourself – or know a hunter who owes you a favor."
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