Now, I make a mean bacon-wrapped duck on the grill. It’s as simple as it gets with pieces of wild duck breast marinated about 12 hours in ordinary, store-bought Italian dressing, then wrapped in half a bacon strip, pinned with a thoroughly soaked toothpick, and grilled to medium rare at the most. This easy recipe is so good it has its own groupies even among non-hunters! I have friends who will place their orders ahead of time for these bite-sized treats before coming to visit at our house.
I explain all this to give you background on a duck breast appetizer I encountered on a hunt last fall with the guys at Camp Chef out in Salt Lake City, Utah. They gathered a bunch of writer types with a bunch of chef types and voila … they got creative with mouthwatering results.
The hunting was outstanding. We shot limits including 10 species of ducks in a single day on the marsh. All of us had such a good time, we didn’t want it to end, so we lingered until late in the day. Then we had an hour drive back to the lodge. The plan had been for a bunch of us to get in the kitchen to cook up some of our favorite recipes on the Camp Chef equipment, but our return was so late and everyone was so hungry, we voted to let the professionals take over and whip up something fast on the fly.
I went with one of the guides and we made a big pile of duck breast fillets while Hank Shaw and Scott Leysath heated up the kitchen. Hank is the proprietor of the great blog site Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and Scott is the Cooking Editor for Ducks Unlimited and host of HuntFishCook TV and Dead Meat on the Sportsman Channel.
These guys are incredible. Working in a strange kitchen with ingredients that happened to be on hand, they turned out slap-your-grandma-good food. Stuff you’d happily pay big bucks for at a restaurant.
The first thing out was an appetizer of thinly sliced duck breast with dipping sauce. It was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth! Though he did it on the fly, I asked Scott to come up with a recipe for it as best he could. He did a great job on that, too! I’ve tried it … it works!
Ingredients for coating:
- 3 cups dried mushrooms, any variety
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
- ½ cup sesame seeds
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or Sambal hot sauce (hot whatever’s on hand)
- Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until mushrooms become a coarse powder. I know “coarse powder” sounds like a contradiction in terms. Some will turn into powder, but you’ll still have a few stubborn pieces that will be about the size of sesame seeds. That’s good. It’ll give it texture.
- Transfer processed mushrooms to a bowl and mix with remaining ingredients.
- Butterfly the duck breasts and lightly coat with olive oil before tossing with the mushroom mix. Heat additional olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add coated duck breasts and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 2 – 3 minutes, flip over and brown other side.
NOTE: DO NOT OVERCOOK THE DUCK! This is the ruination of any kind of waterfowl and why so many people say, “Echhhh! This tastes like dried out liver.” (Duck needs to be cooked to medium rare at most–very pink, moist and delicious at its center!)
- Slice the duck breast thinly (⅛ – ¼-inch thick) before serving accompanied by the dipping sauce.