From a putrefying swamp to a slobbering dog’s mouth to the dinner table of some of our best friends, those three mallards hold a special place in my heart. Yes, I will remember them, at least for the next year, as the fruits of Wylie’s labors on the best day of his life.
But part three of Wylie’s comeback is not about Wylie. It’s about skin.
I will remember these ducks because they are the first ducks that I’ve ever cooked that ended up with crispy skin. All of my previous efforts at sauteing ducks, no matter how perfect and delicious the meat would come out, found me chewing incessantly on swamp flavored rubber.
But now those days are over, and I owe it all to Hank Shaw, author of the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook website. There are a few little tricks, simple yet apparently critical, that transform the skin of a duck from chewy and neighboring on insipid to crunchy, sweet and as delicious as anything on earth.
Shaw has also authored a few cookbooks, his most recent a treatise on ducks and geese: Duck, Duck, Goose. Perhaps some day I’ll review it in detail. Today I’ll review it in brief: If you hunt ducks and take the lives of these amazing creatures, buy this book. Upon reading, you will get more from your birds, more meat, more fat, more flavor, and ultimately more respect for their journey to your table.