This is Henry Lowe’s (Macon GA’s best wild game chef) favorite recipe for ducks that he’s forgotten about in the back of his freezer. His brother, Tom, says it’s the absolute best way to cook woodies. They both use the same recipe for quail, but only if they aren’t any ducks on hand. Henry stresses the importance of making sure that the ducks are fall-off-the-bone tender before removing them from the pan. Add more liquid as needed and cook until the meat is very tender and pulls aff the bone easily. Otherwise, Tom says, you’ll have “…a tough, chewy duck that tastes like something the dog won’t eat.” Done right, “It’s like making Duck Pot Roast, only better.” says Henry.
I prefer the traditional soft, moist version of polenta to the trendier firm variety. This recipe strays from my usual “fast and hot” method of cooking ducks, but it still tastes like duck and, believe me, you don’t want to argue with Tom and Henry. Polenta is available at most major grocery stores. It’s easy to make, just follow the directions on the bag. The Lowe’s often use grits instead of polenta, but they don’t want to scare off any Northerners. They also stir extra cheese into the polenta before serving.
Henry Lowe’s Duck, Mushrooms and Polenta
- 4 ducks quartered
- 1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon each pepper salt, garlic powder and onion powder
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 4 cup mushrooms quartered
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 cup fresh tomato diced
- 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- warm cooked polenta
- grated jack cheese
- Dredge duck pieces with seasoned flour. Heat grease or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add breasts, skin side down and cook until skin is crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip breasts over and add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes. Transfer everything to a roasting pan. Add wine one cup of the of chicken broth, celery and carrot. Cover with lid or foil and place in a 375 degree preheated oven. Add additional wine or stock if liquid evaporates. Duck will be very firm before it gets to the tender stage. Test for doneness after about 1 hour and continue cooking as needed.
- In a saucepan, heat remaining chicken broth with mushrooms and cook untl mushrooms soften. Add basil and tomato and heat to warm. Remove from heat and whisk in butter pieces until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cooked duck over polenta and top with cheese before serving.