Ken Barnes photo

Pictured is columnist Ken Barnes with a nice bevy of ducks bagged this past week after a really slow season to date.

Readers may remember my column last September for the dove opening that included Steve Merlo's great recipe for cooking these delicious birds.

It came from the book he wrote entitled "The Official, Can't Live Without It, EASY, Wild Game And Fish Cookbook."

Since this is the last weekend for waterfowl hunting, I thought it appropriate to do Steve justice again by including two recipes for ducks he always swore were the best ever.

Many years ago Steve and I felt the same way about having ducks for a meal. The first line in his book about wild ducks reads..."Once, I hated the taste of waterfowl. Wild ducks were dry, tough, and liver-tasting birds that were eaten only because someone else said they were terrific on the table."

He went on to mention that a friend named Duffy (Sill?) told him that ducks were not equal on the table. You had to eat the better ones, which were Teal, Mallards, and Pintail (Sprig). With the following recipes they epitomize the time-honored tradition of eating and enjoying wild duck.

So, if any of you hunters out there reading this column bag a few birds in the next couple of days, be sure to try the following recipes. Enjoy.

Roasted wild duck

Ingredients....4 Sprig, Mallard, or Teal (Plucked and Cleaned)....1 Medium Onion...Olive Oil....1 Cup Red Wine....6 Garlic Cloves, Finely Crushed 1 Medium Apple...1 Celery Stock...2 Slices Bacon...."Pappy's" Bottled Seasoning....Salt and Pepper to taste Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rub olive oil and garlic over each bird, then salt and pepper inside and out. Place 1/4 of onion, 1/4 apple, and 1/4 celery into the body cavity of each bird. Place ducks breast up in a roasting pan and add the wine.

Drape 1/2 slice of bacon over each breast and sprinkle with a medium dose of "Pappy's." Cook uncovered, basting occasionally. Roasting times vary, but teal should be cooked for exactly 25 minutes, sprig for 35, and mallards, especially fat ones, 45. Do not overcook! Discard stuffing and serve the birds a juicy medium-rare to to a moist-and-still-pink medium.

Enjoy with your favorite rice, salad, and wine. More ducks require additional cooking times, about 1 1/2 minutes per extra bird. Serves two or four depending on appetites.

Broiled or barbecued wild duck

Ingredients....Preheat the Oven Broiler or Light the Charcoal....Olive Oil....Salt and Pepper...."Pappy's Bottled Seasoning".....4 Ducks Halved 4 or 5 Cloves Crushed Garlic.

Rub halves with garlic and olive oil, then salt and pepper. Sprinkle with "Pappy's." Cook over medium coals or 475 broiler oven. Times vary, but 12 minutes on a side for teal, 15 minutes a side for sprig, and 20 minutes a side for mallards is ideal. Serves four or less, depending on appetite.

In a final note, Steve mentions he also likes to dip his ducks in any good jam or jelly preserves, though it is completely unnecessary. Mint and apricot were particular favorites of his.

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