This recipe utilises the whole duck and because of the slow method of cooking in fat you end up with a tender, moist and flavoursome result. I recommend giving the Brussel sprouts a go as bacon always makes things better but if you don’t feel like making the accompaniments then serving with some nice buttery mash potatoes is the way to go.
Duck confit on caramelised Brussel sprouts, bacon and grain mustard with bread sauce and fig chutney
Place all the confit salt ingredients except the salt itself into a food processor or using a mortar and pestle coarsely grind together. Add the salt and briefly grind together until well mixed. Cut the duck completely in half along the back bone and rub the salt mix all over and into both sides of the duck. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. After no more than 12 hours rinse off all the salt mix under cold running water and pat the duck dry on a kitchen towel. Place the duck in an oven proof dish and cover completely with rendered duck fat, cover with baking paper then tin foil and bake at 110C for 2-4 hours until the meat easily falls away from the bone. As long as the duck is covered in the fat it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months. To serve, drain the duck out of the fat (keep the fat for next time or for roasting potatoes), then roast in a hot oven to crisp up the skin.
For the Brussels
Cut the Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and cook in salted boiling water until they’re just cooked; about 5 minutes. Drain and keep to one side. Chop up the bacon and fry in a little oil for 1 min. Add to the pan the Brussel sprouts, butter, brown sugar and mustard and fry over a moderate heat until nice and brown. Season with a bit of salt to taste (keeping in mind the bacon is already a bit salty).
For the Bread Sauce
Gently heat the milk, clove, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in a pot. Chop the onion into small pieces and roughly smash the garlic with the back of your knife. Gently cook the onion and garlic in a pot with the butter for about 4-5 mins until softened but not brown. Pour the hot milk mix on top of the onions and garlic and simmer gently for 10mins to infuse the flavours. Strain the flavoured milk into a pot, discard the onions and herbs etc and add the bread to the milk mix. Simmer for 3-4mins. Blend with a stick blender until smooth or leave chunky for a rustic sauce. Season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the crispy confit duck with the Brussel sprouts and bread sauce piping hot along with some nice fruit or fig chutney.
Since it is now Duck shooting season, here is a wee bonus recipe utilizing the whole duck and which can be done easily at home. Be sure not to cook the duck longer than you need to or it can dry out.. This is a great opportunity to use your Dutch oven if you have one and it will yield great results as they retain the heat and moisture really well. My recipe for Duck Confit can be found in the July/August edition of NZ Guns & Hunting magazine and keep an eye out in the next edition for tips on how to pluck and dress your duck.
Whole roast duck with cranberry, bacon and walnut stuffing
Here is an easy recipe that uses the whole duck but can be adapted to use for any roasting bird.
Roughly chop up the garlic, shallot and bacon. In a food processor pulse these three ingredients together then add the bread and parsley and pulse until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the cranberries, walnuts and the egg along with some salt and pepper and mix for 5-10 seconds until it has come together. Stuff the duck’s cavity with the stuffing mix and secure the hole with a toothpick. Season the outside of the bird with some salt and bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 1.5-2hrs (depending on the size of your bird) or until the leg meat is tender and the skin is golden and crispy. If the duck is getting too brown but is not cooked to your liking you can cover it with tinfoil to stop it from burning. If you are concerned about the breasts drying out you can insert a rasher of bacon under the skin on top of each of the breasts. Save the duck fat for roasting your potatoes.
For the Potatoes
Peel your potatoes (Agria potatoes are nice here) and cook in a pot of salted cold water until they are about 80% cooked and are still a little bit firm in the centre. Drain and keep to one side. In a roasting tray place a few spoonfuls of duck fat and place the tray with the fat in it in a 200C oven until it is really hot, about 15mins. Being careful not to burn yourself tip the nearly cooked potatoes into the tray with the duck fat and shake the pan a little to coat the potatoes with fat and season with a little salt. Place back in the oven and roast until nice and crispy, about 20-30mins.
Once the duck is cooked cover with some tin foil or a tea towel and leave it to rest for 15mins before carving so the juices set and the meat has time to relax. You can’t go wrong serving it with a good bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir.
I am a professional chef and amateur hunter. I have spent time hunting in most of the North Island ranges but do most of my hunting in the Tararua’s. Working as a chef has sent me to several locations in the world and I have worked in New Zealand, Malaysia, Cook Islands and the Maldives. I first started out hunting rabbits and possums with my old man when I was a kid before moving on to goats and deer as I grew older. As a chef I like to use the best produce available. Hunters when killing humanely and taking only what they need can end up cooking with not only the most ethically harvested meat but when dealt with properly, the best quality also. I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how best not to waste it, and that’s why I think hunting and cooking marry so well together and that’s what I hope to promote and achieve through sharing the recipes and techniques we use to cook wild game professionally.
You can find a new recipe using wild game in every new edition of NZ Guns & Hunting Magazine. Here is the first recipe from The Hunter’s Kitchen from the May/June edition.
Wild venison, blue cheese and mushroom pie
This recipe utilises Venison shoulder and is great dish for the colder months. Shoulder is a heavily worked muscle which means it requires a slow long cooking time to break down the connective tissue, the flip side is that the tougher cuts of meat have more flavour!
50g Dried mushrooms (porcini best but can use shittake)
100g Mushrooms (buttons or flats)
2Tbsp Duck fat (or butter or cooking oil)
8Tbs Plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 Pkt Puff pastry sheets
1 Egg (whisked with 1Tbs water)
2Tbs Melted butter
Crush the garlic and dice the onion. Roughly chop the mushroom stalks and dried mushrooms. Heat the duck fat in a pot and cook off the garlic, onion and mushrooms until nicely browned. Dust the diced venison in a little flour and in 4 or 5 batches, sear in a hot pan with a little oil until nicely browned. Combine all ingredients together in a deep oven dish (adding enough water or chicken stock so the ingredients are covered) and braise slowly at 150C until tender – about 2-3hrs. If the sauce is too thin then drain the liquid into a pot and reduce until nicely thickened, season with salt and pepper. Cool.
Once cool grease several small (or one large) pie tins and line the base with puff pastry, fill with the pie mix and crumble some blue cheese on top. Place some puff pastry on top for a lid and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim off any excess pastry and brush the top with some whisked egg wash. Bake 1t 180C for about 12-15 mins or until the pastry is cooked and a nice golden brown.
I suggest serving with some buttery mash potatoes and tomato relish.”
This is a really heart soothing soup, the truffle oil really elevates this dish so if you have it then be sure to use it. To make a pure cauliflower soup you can omit the parsnip and replace with equivalent cauliflower and vice versa. To make it vegetarian omit the pancetta crumbs and replace with croutons and swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
Truffled Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup w Pancetta Crumbs
4 slices Pancetta (or can replace with Salami etc)
1Tbs Chopped Parsley
1tsp Chopped Thyme
1/4C Breadcrumbs (preferably panko or home made)
For the Soup
Sweat the chopped garlic and the chopped parsnip in the butter over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and simmer for 10-15mins until the parsnip is nearly cooked. Add the chopped cauliflower and the milk and simmer over a low heat until both the cauliflower and the parsnip are very soft and fully cooked. If at any time the liquid reduces too much during cooking and the vegetables are no longer covered you can just top it up with some more stock or water. Remove the bay leaves and puree in a blender or use a stick blender. Add more milk if the soup is too thick and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
For the Pancetta Crumbs
Finely chop the garlic and the pancetta and fry in the olive oil until golden brown. Add the breadcrumbs and chopped thyme and cook until all is golden brown. Drain on a paper towel then in a small bowl mix through the chopped parsley.
Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls with a generous drizzle of the truffle oil and a good sprinkling of the crumbs on top.
Here’s one of the recipes from my most recent Offal cooking class. There’s no fundamental difference in offal from any other cut of meat (it all comes from an animal) and if cooked right can be delicious. Lamb’s brains and sweetbreads are two really non confronting types of offal and lend themselves really well to crumbing and here I have served with a smoky chilli mayo which you could also serve with anything deep fried.
Firstly make the court bouillon by roughly chopping the vegetables and combining all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to the boil and then drop to the simmer. Add the brains and simmer for a 3-5mins until they are just set. Remove and place on a tray and chill.
For the Mayo
Combine all ingredients except the oil and smoke essence in a food processor. Slowly add the oil while blending to emulsify. Add smoke essence to taste and more tabasco/chilli powder if more heat is desired. Season. Add warm water at the end for consistency if necessary.
Whisk the egg with a little water. Crumb the brains by first dredging in the flour, then the egg and finally in the panko bread crumbs. Shallow fry or deep fry in oil until crispy, drain on paper and season.
Got some croissants left over after the weekend? Put them to good use with this bread and butter pudding recipe. If you don’t have any pastries on hand you can use any sort of white bread but using pastries or croissants raises it to the next level.
Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding with Rum Caramel and Fried Banana
During my travels cooking I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic Thai chefs both when in Malaysia and when working for a Thai resort in the Maldives. To me Thai cuisine is all about punchy vibrant flavours, which I love. You’ve got to have the right balance between salty (fish sauce), sour (lime juice), spicy (a good kick of chili) and sweet (sugar) to make sure you get an authentic taste, and if you’re not sure what that authentic taste is then what better excuse than to book a flight to Thailand!
A chocolate mousse is only as good as the chocolate you use so try to use good quality. I don’t like using too much sugar in my mousse and don’t use cream, to me a chocolate mousse should taste first and foremost of chocolate with a little sugar as seasoning, I feel cream tends to dilute the chocolate taste and too much sugar dominates.
Curing your own meat can be very rewarding. It might sound difficult or time-consuming but it isn’t really. There is about an hour of actual work involved maximum and the rest is just sitting back, relaxing and waiting. This recipe uses beef but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use any other red meat such as venison. Curing meat in ways such as this was used as a type of preservation before refrigerators but we still do now because it’s so damn tasty. Once ready make sure you slice as thinly as you can and can enjoy in lots of different ways such as in a sandwich or part of a meat or antipasto platter.
Remove all fat and silver skin/sinew from the beef and in two legnth-wise to about the same size as a big salami. Mix together the sugar and the salt and pour over the beef. Place in the fridge covered with cling film for three days, turning the beef each day to ensure that it is evenly cured. After three days wash off the salt and sugar mix from the beef with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the beef in an appropriate dish and place another dish on top. Place on top as much weight you can in the form of maybe full cans, jars, bottles etc, it doesn't matter what it is so long as there is a decent amount of weight pressing down on the beef. Return to the fridge and leave for three days. Check every now and again and if any liquid has come out of the beef then discard the liquid and return the beef back to the fridge.
For the marinade
Take the garlic, fenugreek and paprika and blend in a food processor to a paste. Coat the beef in the paste making sure the beef is 100% covered with a layer about 3mm thick. Hang the beef with some string in a cool, dry place out of the sun for about 10 days. Once ready you can slice the beef and enjoy however you like. The outer coating is edible or you can discard if you like. Keep wrapped with cling film in the fridge or freeze.
This is not a hunting blog, although recently reading the furor that has gone viral on the internet after pictures of “hardcore huntress” Melissa Bachman with her trophy lion, being a chef I got thinking about the ethics involved in where our food comes from and people’s opinions regarding this. It is an interesting debate regarding wild food and the ethics surrounding it. I read the comments of one of the articles and this picture has certainly enraged some people and has sparked some pretty intense debate. Lions are officially a “vulnerable species” with much of their range being reduced outside of national and game parks, most likely due to human encroachment. Bachman apparently shot this lion on a game park where people pay up to tens of thousands of dollars to shoot one of the “big five” African game species. There seems to be two distinct arguments from people, one is that she shouldn’t be shooting a lion and the other is that nobody should be shooting anything. As far as I am concerned, yes nobody should be shooting any animal which is at any sort of threat of being endangered and I think most people would agree upon this. That nobody should be shooting anything… well this I am not sure about. I think in our world of convenience a lot of people have a disassociation between food and where it actually comes from, ie meat comes from a living, breathing animal. I think that a boneless, skinless chicken breast in plastic wrap sitting on the pak n sav poulty section is so far removed from what was a few days before a walking breathing and feathered chicken that people have forgotten this fact. If you are a person who eats meat, why then would you be opposed to hunting? If an animal in the wild is shot in the correct place with an appropriate sized rifle and therefore dies a fast and humane death then what makes this worse than factory farmed animals? Personally if you asked me what I would rather be re-incarnated into, would it be an animal that was born in captivity, fed an artificial diet possibly full of steroids to make me grow fast, lived my entire (short) life in a cage before being jammed into the back of a truck before being stunned, bled and then processed OR would it be an animal born into the wild and living free before one day being shot in the head, well that’s a no brainer (sorry no pun intended…). If an animal such as red deer which are plentiful (and actually considered a “pest” by the New Zealand Department of Conservation) are shot and humanely killed with none of the meat wasted then what’s the difference between that and the cow that ends up as sirloin steak in the supermarket? Perhaps because it’s a little bit more in your face and shows the reality of the food chain? Perhaps we have come to a point in time where meat from a cow is now more associated with a Quarter Pounder than the thing that eats grass and goes moo? Now if you want to see something really disgusting you should google how a hot dog is made, although I doubt anyone would think twice about ordering one at the rugby but they might think twice about looking a cow in the eye and pulling the trigger. But that’s how it works, people have to kill living creatures in order for us to eat them, maybe even after they have been processed, mechanically reclaimed and emulsified with water, colour and preservatives before being made into hot dog or sausage patty shapes and then making their way into everyone’s Sausage McMuffin… Compare that with wild game which has grazed on a natural and superior diet which results in a better flavoured and higher quality meat. I think the only people who can argue against sustainable, humane and ethical hunting would be vegans. I respect anyone who has an opinion based on moral grounds and sticks to their guns, I can appreciate that. Anyone else, well it’s a bit hypocritical arguing against hunting when it’s just someone else who is doing your killing for you, isn’t it???