We had a waterfowl catastrophe here last week which I will share later in a non-food related post. We lost both a goose and a duck to a duck-related injury. It was depressing and irritating and awful. The only upside of it all was that it resulted in a drake duck cooling his heels in the refrigerator. That, coupled with the opening day of trout season, led to some tremendous meals at our house. I think everyone is familiar by now with how much I love Hank Shaw's books. It was a Hank Shaw week here in the best way.
For the start of the week I made Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Orange from his lovely book Duck, Duck, Goose. Here's a link to the recipe on his website. The recipe is for goose breasts but if you watch your timing it's no problem to use duck. I was proud of the dry-plucking job I did, usually I just skin waterfowl. No more! It was so much easier that anticipated. Not messy at all - I did it in the kitchen sink after the little man went to bed - plucked beautifully. Served with roasted potatoes and homemade bread.
Opening day of trout season produced zero trout for me, again. Because yours truly is heavily pregnant at this point we couldn't fish at the spot we normally do but were limited to places without steep banks.... yeah. Easily accessible but crowded and not very productive. We tried fishing in 5 different locations and caught some other small fish but no trout. There was a small carp which I really should have taken home; carp has a bad reputation but can be delicious if cooked properly. No one around us was catching trout either. It was disappointing in that catching stocked trout early in the season usually falls under the category of "gathering" rather than "fishing". It was really lovely being outside by the water early in the day though.
Can you spot the Canada Goose egg by the stream?
Another stop. It's hard to see in the picture but we weren't alone. There is a Canada Goose on a nest on the left trestle support. We also saw a pair of Kingfishers, my favorite birds.
My father went out the next day and caught three trout which he dropped off at my house. I turned them into Hank's fantastic fish cakes. The sauce is our "famous only in our house" mayo/sriracha/worcestershire mix.
You can find this one here. He suggests taking the meat off of the fish before you cook it but I wasn't sure how that would go with small trout so I just cleaned them and threw them in the oven with olive oil until the skin peeled off and the meat flaked. Remember to get the little nugget of meat out of the cheek area. These are so very good. Even if you think you don't like trout - this is a winner. The herbs are fantastic. We had the leftovers the next day as the filling for fish tacos, which I think were even better than just the plain cakes.
I still had the legs/thighs from the duck in the refrigerator and wanted to try something different so I made Hank's Duck Gumbo with Shrimp out of Duck, Duck Goose. I don't see this one on the website. It was absolutely fantastic! It did require a well-stocked freezer: duck stock, gizzards, duck fat and 2 lbs duck legs. I rummaged through our freezer and came up with chicken stock, goose giblets, chicken fat and a goose leg/thigh in addition to the duck. We are out of goose and duck fat. "Who the hell has these things?" my husband wondered. Us, apparently.
The gumbo just got better the next day. Two people I tried it on thought it was way too spicy but everyone else raved about it. It prompted one of our friend's sons to say "we should go get a goose this fall" at the dinner table, which is just great. It was interesting to be able to compare duck and goose side by side in one dish. The Embden goose we had butchered last year had much lighter meat than the duck - the duck looked like beef.
This week I was also staring down about 3 dozen assorted eggs not even including the big bowl of quail eggs. In an effort to get the pile down I made and froze several batches of egg noodle dough to run through the pasta maker later. It also seemed a good time to try the Salt Cured Egg Yolks I had read about in Hank's newsletter earlier in the spring.
Five duck yolks fit into a 8x8 pan. It seems like a crazy idea but give it a Google - lots of cooking websites are raving about these. If we like the first batch I'll do some more for the winter. The ducks lay every single day so they add up quickly. The quail are laying every day as well. I have no idea why chickens are so popular for eggs. There are other birds that are much better producers. I suspect it's because they can withstand confinement which is just damn depressing.
Well, there's a bit of my cooking for the week. If you want to see more of what I've done and read more about why I love Hank's books you can click here for Duck Bigarade and here for a more complete low-down on Goose Breast with Orange-Ouzo Sauce. His recipes are reason enough to raise or hunt waterfowl.