Teal à l'Orange

Early teal season is nice because it happens in September, when the days begin to cool down and the mornings are neither too hot nor cold. Hunting the first day of the season is a tradition for many families, including Rick’s cousins who are avid waterfowl hunters. Rick went two years ago with the Browns and did well. This last season, I decided to tag along with my camera. 

Though the 2015 opener was slower compared to previous years, Rick and I were able to come home with six ducks. We plucked all ducks and found them to be pleasantly fat and healthy. However, one was extremely shot up, so we decided to use it for stock. I was also able to take some of the excess fat from near the tail area and rendered it down for later use. Here’s a great tutorial on how to render duck/goose fat from Hank Shaw: http://honest-food.net/wild-game/duck-goose-recipes/rendered-duck-goose-fat/ 

For those in need of instruction on how to hunt and process waterfowl, check out our book Hunting for Food

This recipe was adapted from bon appetit’s Duck à l’Orange, a classic French dish. Cooking time was adjusted for teal, which is a small duck that takes little time to cook. We also made some tweaks to suit our tastes. 

Servings: 2-4 

Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Cooking Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes 
- 4 whole teals, plucked and wings removed (reserve) 
- 2 tablespoons of oil (or duck fat, if available)
- Quarter of an onion, roughly chopped

- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- 3 cups of water
- 1 duck carcass of shot up duck, optional
- 3 navel oranges
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup of port
- 1 tablespoon of cold butter
- 1 teaspoon of lime juice
- Paprika
- Roasted vegetables: pictured is carrot, parsnips and shallot

1. Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Brown duck wings*, onion and 3 sprigs of thyme for 5-7 minutes. Next, add celery, carrot, peppercorns, chicken stock, and water. Simmer for 1 hour. 

*If you have ducks that are too shot up to cook whole, breast them out and save the bones/carcass. Add the bones to the stock pot.

2. Meanwhile, slice off the peel (orange part) and pith (white part) of one orange. Remove as much pith -- it tastes bitter-- as you can from the peels using a fillet knife. Add the peels to the simmering stock. 

Cut out the orange membranes over a bowl and reserve for later. Juice the other two oranges.
3. Pat ducks dry and prick them all over with a toothpick-- this will allow the skin to render more efficiently. Season them well with salt, including inside the cavity. 
Place ducks breast side down in a cold, heavy skillet. Turn up the heat to medium and allow the skin to render and brown. Then turn ducks on their sides and backs to brown. Remove ducks from the skillet and place them on a baking sheet and set aside. Do not cook ducks all the way through-- goal is to brown/render the skin only.
4. Once stock is done, strain it. Discard all solids except the orange peels. Slice the peels thinly and reserve.

In the same skillet where the ducks were browned, add 1/4 cup of port to the rendered duck fat and reduce to a syrupy consistency, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Next, add the strained stock, orange juice and 2 more sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce until thickened and smooth (about 20 minutes)-- you will end up with about 1/3 cup of sauce. Take off heat, remove the thyme and whisk in cold butter and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

(You can also complete this step while you bake the ducks in the next step.)

5. Lightly dust paprika over duck breasts and sides. After your oven has had at least 30 minutes to warm up after it reached 450 degrees, roast the teals for 12 minutes-- meat will be pink. Cook longer if you like meat that's more done and crispier skin. 

Allow ducks to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle orange sauce on the dish and lay duck on top. Garnish dish with orange wedges and sliced peel. Serve with roasted vegetables or your favorite sides. 


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