Cookbooks generally have an introduction that states the underlying purpose of the book:
- “I love to bake and here are my special recipes”
- “These are family recipes that span five generations”
- “You don’t know what you can do with a kiwi”
- “Celebrity chefs have a short lifetime so I need to cash in now”
Duck, Duck, Goose has the most direct, honest, forceful introduction I have ever seen:
“… to free ourselves from the Tyranny of the Chicken and shake our fists at the notion that fat is our enemy.”
This book cannot be denied.
Have you ever tried to cook duck? I remember our first effort. It was the third month of our marriage and we were still in that “who is in charge mode.” We stood there, each waiting for the other to make the first move. I’m the male, I caved first. “Should we call the fire department?” I asked Suzen.
“I don’t think they could get here in time.” She shook her head
We stood our porch and watched heavy, black smoke emerge from our barbecue. There was a split duck inside, spewing fat that had caught fire in a conflagration way beyond our humble capabilities. We ate out that night. And said never again.
Now, we can try again and this time enjoy grilled duck that will be superb. Author Hank Shaw has previously written Hunt, Gather, Cook and is an avid outdoorsman. You can learn more about Hank, his skills, and his recipes at www.honest-food.net. That title hints quite a bit about a very accomplished man.
Hank knows that, unlike chicken, duck and geese have distinct flavors on a species by species basis. Geese themselves are quite distinct from ducks, and, candidly, much less energy efficient: 7 pounds of feed for 1 pound of ultimate goose meet. Ducks are more in the 2-3 pound range.
So, in Duck, Duck, Goose — as the title cleverly suggests — you will find more duck ideas than goose. You might, though, think about making that goose prosciutto.
There are four major sections to the book:
- Whole Birds
In Basics, you learn about the different species, how to buy, and how to break down a whole bird. If you are a hunter, then here you’ll find instructions on how to pluck the feathers and hang the bird — I told you Hank was an outdoorsman. Whether you hunt it or buy it, the section on wine pairing will guide you to a richly satisfying meal.
There is a restaurant renaissance in duck and goose and Hank believes this trend can be brought home. Once hard to find, duck and geese are appearing more and more in your local markets. And not just whole birds. You can find legs and breasts packaged up and ready to apply for your kitchen attention.
In Whole Birds, you begin with recipes for roasting whole duck and geese. For a duck, this means cooking for a time, carving off the breast and then finishing off the rest of the bird. Ducks are beautiful birds, but complex creatures with high fat content that require special technique.
To make life simpler, there is a slow-roasted recipe that spares you this midstream carving step. Plus recipes for smoking and grilling. Yes, Peking Duck is here, complete with pancakes.
The Pieces chapter is replete with ideas for different duck parts coming from all around the world. All around. Duck breasts are offered as Duck Breasts with Black Currant Sauce. There are Asian recipes from Korea, Laos, China, Japan, and Viet Nam. Here you can find soups and fried rice with great national tradition.
Ground duck is offered in recipes for meatballs, chili, and even sliders. The slider recipe is at the end of this review
If you have duck wings, there is French Duck Wing Soup.
And legs are used in Persian Legs with Walnuts and Pomegranate, a Moroccan Tangine, and a Thai Curry.
There’s confit, of course, a complete recipe with lots of ingredients and needing some time. Hank offers an Easy Confit that may fit better into a busy life.
The final chapter, Extras, could only come from someone like Hank. When we were hunters, and when hunting consumed time and energy, every last bit of the bird had to be put to use. That explains the universe of recipes you encounter here: heart, tongue, liver and more are used in pate, sausage, and jerky. Duck fat is lavishly employed in pie dough and pasta. The traditional English Pork Pie becomes Hank’s Duck Pie, described as a “meat bomb.” There are Duck Hot Dogs and Duct Fat Hollandaise.
I’m not quite ready to say that we are under the yoke of a Chicken Tyranny. But, let’s be honest, chicken fundamentally tastes like chicken. There is nothing, as Hank points out, like crispy duck skin. And Duck, Duck, Goose will set you crispfully free.
Why not begin with Duck Sliders?
Hank experimented and found that the combination of duck and bacon makes a delectable mini-burger. Sharp-flavored accompaniments are wise here: pickles, pickled onions, ketchup, mustard. And provolone or Monterey Jack can be added to amplify the experience.
This recipe calls for grinding up the duck and bacon. If you still have not bought your own meat grinder, then smile at your butcher and ask for a favor. If they sell duck breasts, they are high-scale and should be ready for these requests.
Yield: 10 sliders
- 1 pound skinless duck breasts, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces bacon, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, optional
- Duck fat or bacon fat, if cooking on the stove top
- Slider buns
- Cheese slice of choice for serving
- Pickles, pickled onions, ketchup, mustard of your choice
Put the duck and bacon in a bowl and sprinkle with the chile powder. Put the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes or so.
Fit your meat grinder with the fine die, and pass the duck mixture through the grinder. With your hands, shape the mixture into 10 small patties [look at the size of the buns and match the size].
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill, or heat a little duck fat in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Grill or fry the patties, turning once, for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are at least medium-rare. The timing will depend on the thickness of the patties.
Toast the buns, if you like, then add your burgers and fixin’s — cheese, pickles, pickled onions, ketchup, mustard — and serve at once.
Needless to say, this is beer food.
For my teambuilding programs at Cooking by the Book, I offer teams a choice of kitchen challenges, including our own version of Iron Chef. Our Market Basket Challenge lets a group break into individual teams. Each team has the same basket of ingredients and faces the challenge to create, without a written recipe, the winning main course. An experienced culinary advisor supports each team, offering suggestions and advice. But each team is free to be inspired, creative, and energetic.
It’s surprising what variation the teams come up with using those same ingredients. The quality? Always good, and sometimes outstanding. Once, a team of women from the Far East made a dipping sauce based on a mother’s Thai recipe. It was unforgettable and in the rush of the evening no one wrote it down. It’s one of those mournable moments of life.
Of course, after an hour in the kitchen, when they are finished every person is famished and they want something NOW.
So, in advance of guests entering our kitchen for their contest, we prep a first course, one sure to satiate every palette. We too are challenged, having to match the creativity of our guests, we cannot disappoint them, and we have found the ideal first dish. These sliders are on so satisfying and versatile. You can replace the wasabi mayo with a southwestern salsa or a hyper tartar sauce or …
Stir up your own creative juices and just play. This can be your first course or make 2-3 for each person for a main course.
Rock Shrimp Sliders with Wasabi Mayo
Yield: 6 to 8 mini burgers
Ingredients for the Rock Shrimp Burgers:
- 1 pound rock shrimp
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients Wasabi Mayonnaise:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup prepared wasabi (less or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Mini buns or hamburger rolls or hot dog rolls cut to size
- Garnishes: sliced cherry tomatoes, pickles, radish sprouts, lettuce
To make the mayonnaise, mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the sliders, place half of the shrimp in the bowl of a food processor and add the egg. Process by pulses until smooth and free of chunks.
Coarsely chop the remaining shrimp and put into a bowl. Add the processed shrimp and the parsley, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the buns by cutting gout smaller buts with a 1 1/2-inch diameter ring mold or biscuit cutter. Grill if desired. Take a heaping tablespoon of the slider mixture and form it into a small patty, about 1 to 2 inches across. Continue with the remaining mixture until all the sliders are formed. Grill or fry them over medium heat until they are browned and cooked through.
Place a shrimp slider onto each min-bun bottom. Top with a slice of cherry tomato and wasabi mayo. Cover with the bun top and secure with a toothpick.
Source: Ham on the Street, the Food Network