Canvasback Flashback: Quick Recipe… Canvasback & Mallard, with “whatever is lying around the kitchen”

Just a hint of Autumn… only the most preliminary foreshadowing, mind you, brought on by a night or two of temps dipping down in the 50’s last week, crisper mornings, more blind work last weekend, and DU committee work kicking up for our fall event, starts my mind down that familiar, well known path. Somewhere along that mental journey I stumbled over a quick piece I had posted up to our local Ducks Unlimited chapter’s page a couple years ago. Thought it might be a nice post to “flashback” to as our attention starts to turn to the Fall and all it brings with it.

From November of 2010:

Got home the other night, family out running around, kitchen cupboards bare, and hungry AS a bear myself. Knowing I had a couple birds lying in wait, and willing to do about anything to avoid going out to eat, I set myself to the task. Something about the “King” always possess me to label and set aside, to be eaten in exclusivity, not lost to the variety club, in a jerky pile with all of those “common” fowl. No, to be sure, the regal and rare Canvasback always receives special attention in this home.

Seeking out the lower drawers in the fridge, I am able to muster up the last half of an onion, a half of a red bell pepper, and what appears to be a sliver of a an Anaheim pepper from our garden. Add to that a half dozen cloves of garlic and a couple shallots. Oh, and the bonus discovery of 2 portabellas… This was getting good.

Ok, so we commence to chopping veggies, getting everything ready to start those up. In the meantime, I grab the last two slices of bacon, and get those bad boys working on the stove.

Then it happens. I move to the fridge to grab the butter. SO far my making-something-out-of-nothing-show was looking like pure genius, coming off without a hitch… but alas… road block. Not a pat of butter to be found.

Despite my instinct to scream, call pizza delivery, and cry over such misfortunes, I remained calm. First, we had some bacon action. What better to cook in than THAT. I looked through our varied selection of cooking oils, ranging from EVOO to peanut to sesame and on, and with the current concoction brewing, determined the latter was my best bet. So a little bacon “extract” and sesame oil and I was off.

Sauteed veggies while I cut the breasts into thin strips/cubes. Veggies got a bit of a treatment from the following collection of accessories;

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • smoked paprika
  • hint of cayenne
  • a sea salt “blend” that has, most notably, some thyme present, among others

Once sufficiently softened, I set these aside and proceeded with the meat, which I just dusted in flour prior to adding to the skillet. To the mix of oil and grease and now all oniony and garlicky and beautiful, I added enough soy sauce to help keep the skillet wet, as well as a dash or two of worcestershire, and an appropriate amount of the seasonings above, and cooked through to the rare-med-rare state, added the veggies back in to finish them into the mess. Ended up with a skillet full of goodness, piled it on a little bit of leftover wild rice, and I was eating like a king within the hour.

While the whole thing may seem a bit random and unconventional, I must say, I could not keep the kids out of it. It turned out to be fantastic, and less “ducky” than a lot of recipes I have prepared in the past.

When it comes to cooking your waterfowl, never underestimate the power of the basics; soy sauce, bacon, a little heat – can turn those birds you want to give away to your neighbor (or feed to your in-laws) into something worth breakign out the “good dishes” for…

~ benton

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