By Marcelle Bienvenu
THE DUCKS ARE FLYING
My duck-hunting friends are getting antsy for the season to arrive. They’ve been busy preparing for what I believe is one of men’s favorite times of the year. Shotguns have been cleaned and oiled, and probably a small fortune has been spent on shells. The duck blinds have been reworked and stand ready for that first cold front to blow in from the west. Decoys have been retrieved from storage to be marked or tagged. Now it’s just a matter of time before they can go forth to their camps, get up before dawn, walk through the wind, rain, and mud, then sit in a wet duck blind. Not my idea of fun.
I too am ready and waiting for the season to begin, only because I enjoy the spoils of the hunt. I am quite fond of a roasted duck or a good sausage and duck gumbo, or duck prepared in any number of ways for that matter.
My nephews have promised me that they will supply me with a few mallards and hopefully, a couple of specklebellies, before the season is over.
And in fact, I have gotten out the book WINGS OF PARADISE: BIRDS OF THE LOUISIANA WETLANDS I co-authored with the late Charlie Hohorst to give me inspiration. Not only does the book feature fantastic photographs of blue wing teal, mallards, pintails and wood ducks as well as just about every kind of goose that flies into the Louisiana marshes, but the book also has a wonderful collection of recipes from our duck-hunting friends.
With this stimulation, I’ve chosen a few that I thought you might enjoy when the ducks are flying!
Here’s to you Charlie, my friend!
ROAST TEAL WITH JALAPENO SAUSAGE
Contributed by Benjamin L. Landry, St. Martinville, La.
Ben says this is not only easy, but also awesome, and doesn’t require a whole lot of attention while the ducks are cooking. The sweet potatoes in the cavity will have an incredible flavor as well! Kick back, enjoy a few brews and discuss your hunt while the ducks cook.
Ben and his buddies hunt in a flooded timber area just outside the Atchafalaya Basin.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 4 to 6 teal, dressed, cleaned and patted dry
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Creole Butter Recipe (Cajun Injector® seasoning mix)
- 4 to 6 sweet potatoes (whole, uncooked and unpeeled)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium-size yellow onions, chopped
- 2 medium-size green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh pork sausage with jalapenos, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Rub the teals evenly with the olive oil. Inject each bird with several injections of the Creole Butter Recipe seasoning mix. Stuff the cavity of each teal with a sweet potato and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy oven-proof pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
With a spoon, move the vegetables to the sides of the pot and arrange the teals in the center of the pot. Arrange the sausage over the top of the birds, add the water or broth, cover the pot and transfer the pot to the oven.
Bake until the teal are fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven, let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with rice and hot French bread.
Contributed by Burton E. Cestia, Jr., New Iberia, La.
Burt and his wife, Mary, along with their three children often spent Thanksgiving week at this duck camp near Gueydan when the kids were young.
“We rather roughed it, but it was always a lot of fun. Mary gathered whatever wildflowers were in bloom or used driftwood and branches she found on the property for the centerpiece on the table. We enjoyed roaming around the marshes during the day and marveled at the incredible sunsets, but cooking our Thanksgiving dinner together was always the highlight of our stay. This is one of our favorite duck recipes,” says Burt.
Makes 4 servings
- 4 teals, dressed, rinsed in cool water and patted dry
- 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- Cavender’s Greek seasoning mix to taste
- Tony Chachere’s Original Creole seasoning mix to taste
- Olive oil
- 1 1/2 Granny Smith apples, seeded and quartered
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 6 carrots, scraped and cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
- 8 to 10 small new potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions, for garnish
- Ground cinnamon
- Orange or mandarin slices
Season the ducks, inside and out, generously with the Greek seasoning and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Stuff the duck cavities with equal amounts of the apples, raisins and pecans. Place the ducks in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and brown evenly on all sides, adding a small amount of olive oil to help the browning process depending upon the amount of fat on the ducks.
When the ducks are well browned, transfer them to a platter and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the bell peppers, green onions and celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
Periodically scrape the bottom of the pot lightly with a square-ended wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot to create a dark brown gravy. A little water may be added periodically to help the process.
Return the ducks, breast down, to the pot and add enough water to cover completely. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat and then cover the pot. Check periodically and add more water for the loss caused by the cooking process. Turn the ducks when adding liquid. Cook until the ducks surrender and are fork tender, about 2 hours. Remember the ducks have to surrender! Add the carrots and potatoes and cook until they are fork tender.
Serve over wild rice. Garnish with the green onions.
Add ground cinnamon to taste when seasoning the ducks. Rather than the apples, raisins and pecans, use orange or mandarin slices and walnuts.
DUCK, FRESH PORK SAUSAGE AND MIRLITON GUMBO
Contributed by Chef Patrick Mould, Lafayette, La.
It’s the crack of dawn, thirty-two degrees, a stiff north wind is blowing and a light mist is falling. You ask why I have a smile of on my face? Duck season is open.
Understand that I’m not an avid hunter. I didn’t grow up going out to the blind. I’m an occasional hunter but all it takes is once to be hooked.
Part of the allure is just being miles away from so-called civilization and the hustle and bustle of city life. No cell phone, no television and if you’re lucky you might get some guys to join in a poker game and enjoy some good sipping whiskey.
One of my all time favorite things to eat is teal in a sauce rouille, what Cajuns call a rusty gravy.
Teals are the best eating ducks around and the recipe is so simple. It is nothing more than a few teals, lightly seasoned and browned in a Dutch oven in a little oil. Add a little chopped onions, maybe some chopped garlic and continue to brown the ducks. Add some water, continue to cook until the water has evaporated and the ducks and onions begin to brown, again basting the ducks throughout the cooking process, add more onions and repeat the process over and over until the ducks are tender.
What you end up with is this incredibly rich, dark gravy. This cooking method allows the true flavor of the ducks to shine, which is the ultimate compliment to any ingredient.
Another one of my favorite ways to enjoy duck is in a gumbo. This recipe has a little twist to it—adding some par-boiled mirlitons (or chayotes as they are sometimes called) into the gumbo. The crunch of the mirlitons is a nice compliment to the tenderness of the duck.
If you don’t have a hunter in the family, don’t worry, I’ve used a domesticated ducks in the recipes. If you are using wild ducks, you’ll need the equivalent of 5 to 6 pounds of duck for the recipe, and you’ll have to cook the ducks longer to tenderize, the length of time will depend upon the toughness of the ducks. You will also have to increase the chicken broth by 2 cups.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 domestic duckling (5 to 6 pounds) or wild ducks to equal 5 to 6 pounds, cut into serving pieces
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 2 quarts chicken broth*
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1/2 cup dark roux
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 pound fresh pork sausage
- 2 large mirlitons, peeled and cut into medium-size cubes and cooked until slightly tender in boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- 8 cups cooked rice
Season the duckling (or ducks) with the Worcestershire sauce, 3 teaspoons of Creole seasoning, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, the granulated garlic and granulated onion. Store in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the duck(s) in a baking pan and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the duck(s) from the pan and drain off any fat that has accumulated in the pan.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken broth, half of the onions, celery and bell peppers. Add the roux, the remaining hot sauce, bay leaf, unsliced fresh sausage and roasted duckling (or ducks).
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the cooked sausage, cool and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Set aside.
Add the remaining onions, celery, bell peppers, and the garlic. Cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Add the sausage, mirlitons and salt. Continue to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Cover and cook for 15 minutes longer. Stir in the green onions and serve over rice.
My husband Rock is not much of a football fan. I know that sounds almost sacrilegious in Louisiana where fanatic fans plan their weekends around their favorite college and professional teams. However, from time to time, he suggests that we invite friends to watch a game on television. The opportunity affords him some time to hone his culinary talents while everyone else is glued to the wide screen.
No matter who’s playing who, our friends come to the party wearing T-shirts (and other regalia) showing off their allegiance to their respective favorites. There are always several die-hard LSU Tiger fans who have everything from purple and gold shirts, caps, shoes and ties. A lone Tulane fan tops his head with his father’s green beanie. I proudly don my red University of Lafayette sweatshirt. Then, there are those who have the Saints’black and gold/fleur de lis outfits. It’s quite a colorful group.
Rock does know that football fanatics love to enjoy drinks and munchies before the real meal is served either at halftime or at the end of the game(s).
Here’s what he’s come up with. There has to be lots of cold beer, spicy Bloody Marys, and a bourbon punch that sounds like whiskey sours. I suggested soft drinks and a non-alcoholic mulled cider for those who don’t wish to imbibe.
Most of the time, he’ll pull together what he calls “macho nachos” that are nothing more than layers of taco chips, gooey melted cheese, pickled jalapeno slices, dabs of salsa all garnished with sour cream when they come out of the oven.
But he sometimes includes chicken bites, shrimp salsa, and a smoked oyster log. There are also pretzels, peanuts and popcorn.
I don’t know they do it, but they are ready to dive into his jambalaya when he rings the kitchen bell.
Makes about 3 quarts
- 1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
- 1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups bourbon
- 1 (2-liter) bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled
- 1 (10-ounce) bottle club soda, chilled
Combine the orange juice, lemonade, lemon juice and bourbon and mix well. Chill for several hours. When ready to serve, add the lemon-lime beverage and club soda and mix. Pour over crushed ice to serve.
Makes about 2 quarts
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 10 whole cloves
- 10 whole allspice
- 4 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove and discard the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon sticks. Serve hot.
Makes about 40 appetizers
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup finely chopped, cooked chicken
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
- 1 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and cayenne. Mix well. Add the chicken, celery, and pimiento and mix. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Separate the crescent dough into eight rectangles. Press the perforations to seal. Spread about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese-chicken mixture over each dough rectangle, leaving about 1/2-inch margin on one long side and no margin on the other sides.
Roll the dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at the long side with the filling spread to the edge. Pinch the seams to seal. Brush the tops with the egg. Cut each roll into five pieces and place seam-side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 5 cups
- 1 1/2 pounds boiled small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 ripe medium-size avocados, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 cups coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapenos
- Pinch of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Coarsely chop the shrimp and set aside
Combine the avocados with the lime juice and toss gently to coat. Set aside.
Combine the shrimp, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, cumin, salt, black pepper and hot sauce in a large bowl and toss to mix. Add the avocados and mix gently. Chill for at least two hours before serving with tortilla chips.
SMOKED OYSTER LOG
Makes 1 log to serve about 12 to 14 appetizers
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, cayenne and Tabasco pepper sauce to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tin smoked oysters, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
Combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise and blend well. Add the salt, cayenne, and Tabasco. Stir in the garlic and smoked oysters. Blend well. Wrap the mixture in wax paper and chill for at least 30 minutes. Shape the chilled mixture into a log and roll it in the parsley to coat evenly. Serve with party crackers.
PORK RIB AND SAUSAGE JAMBALAYA
Makes 8 to 10 servings
- 3 pounds pork short ribs
- 1 pound fresh pork sausage, removed from the casing and crumbled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
- 1 cup coarsely chopped green bell peppers
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- Salt and cayenne to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
In a large, heavy pot, brown the pork ribs and sausage in the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the water, rice, and season with salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley. Serve immediately.
I’ve also added a dessert since I know from experience that after the last whistle has blown, those screaming football fans like to have something to satisfy that old sweet tooth.
CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE
Makes one cake to serve about 12 pieces
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer for about two minutes, or until it is soft and creamy. Gradually add the sugars, beating at medium speed for five to seven minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and cocoa and add this to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Spoon the batter into a greased and lightly floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before slicing.