Roast Wild Duck (Teal)

Roast wild duck recipe, especially teal, stuffed with rosemary, onion, apple, cloves, with a sauce of drippings, dry sherry and cream.

Ingredients

  • Wild (not domesticated) whole duck(s), prepped (gutted, head and feet removed, plucked clean of feathers, shot and any bruised areas removed)
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Rosemary
  • Onion
  • Apple
  • Whole Cloves
  • Dry Sherry
  • Cream

Method

1 Preheat oven to 450°F. Inspect duck to see if there are any remaining pin feathers, if so, remove them. Rinse the duck with water. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Lightly stuff duck with a sprig of rosemary, an apple slice with a few cloves poked in them to hold them in place, and a small wedge of onion.

roast-wild-duck-teal-method-1 roast-wild-duck-teal-method-2

2 Slather the duck inside and out with olive oil. Sprinkle all sides of the duck with coarse salt. Lay, breast up, on a roast rack in a roasting pan. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Immediately lower the heat to 425°F.

Cooking times depend on the variety of the duck. Teal ducks typically weigh less than a pound and cook in 10-15 minutes. According to the Joy of Cooking a mallard can take up to 25 minutes. Our duck was perfectly done at 13 minutes. Another duck we cooked for 17 minutes was slightly overdone. Meat thermometers are hardly useful with the small fowl because there isn't enough flesh to put the thermometer into. But if you have an instant read thermometer and can get a good read, my pal Hank suggests cooking until the duck reaches an internal temp of 135°F. If you error on the rare and underdone side, you can always put the bird back in the oven for a few more minutes if it isn't done enough.

If you aren't using a meat thermometer, to test for doneness you can take the bird out of the oven and cut a part of it with the tip of a sharp knife. Note that the juices will run RED, and the meat will be quite red. You want the meat to be rare (wild duck only); it should look like a rare (not raw) steak. The more the meat is cooked beyond the rare stage, the more "livery" or gamey it will taste.

3 Remove the duck from the oven and remove to a separate rack or plate to rest, breast side down, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the stuffing in the cavity before serving.

roast-wild-duck-teal-method-3 roast-wild-duck-teal-method-4

4 While the duck is resting, if there are drippings in the roasting pan, pour off the excess fat (save this wonderful fat for another recipe). Place the roasting pan on the stovetop, heat to medium, and deglaze with a little dry sherry or white wine. Scrape up the browned bits with a metal spatula. Use a metal whisk to break up the bits even further into the wine. Reduce and then add a little cream, (and a few juniper berries if you want an extra touch). Pour off into a gravy serving dish or little bowl.

Serve ducks with wild rice and gravy. Teal ducks are single serving ducks.

Note that you can get excellent stock from the duck carcass. Put the duck carcasses in a saucepan, cover with an inch of cold water, bring to a simmer, lower the heat to barely-a-bubble-simmer covered, and cook for 3 hours. Then strain the stock to a glass jar, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Use the duck stock in place of chicken stock for recipes.

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Comments

  • lauren

    Just an fyi, if the duck eats fish, it is going to taste terrible…at least here in Louisiana. Also, to get the gaminess out of the birds, soak them in buttermilk and seasoning overnight, it makes a big difference.

  • Jessie

    My husband went duck hunting this weekend for the first time in years, and he brought home a couple of nice-sized birds :)! I have never cooked duck before, long ago he made us duck tacos that were AMAZING, but I wanted to give roast duck a go… So here I am!
    I used your recipe, followed it precisely, and it came out absolutely wonderful! I even served it with wild rice and made sherry cream sauce with the drippings (I added about a TB of chopped rosemary too). The sauce was a perfect pairing!
    Our ducks were a little over a pound, so we had to put them in for a little longer, I would say it came to a total of about 16-17 minutes for perfectly rare meat for the size ours were. They were still slightly purple towards the middle, but it tasted great!
    Thanks so much, this was the only simple recipe I found for roasting WILD duck, and the directions were so easy to follow! My husband actually said this was the BEST duck he ever had, and his family has been shooting and cooking those suckers his whole life!
    Awesome, thanks :)!

  • Caleb

    I cooked a mallard using this recipe 2 days ago; I cooked it for 21 minutes, but it didn’t look done so I put it in for about 10 more minutes, when I took it out the second time one side was very bright red but the other side was kind of grayish or light brown. The meat was pretty tough and both sides tasted really gamey, but the red side wasn’t as tough and it tasted a little better. Do you know why that would happen? I thought that maybe it was freezer burn.

    • Elise

      Hi Caleb, as I’ve mentioned in a previous comment, wild duck needs to be cooked RARE. As in red rare. If it is cooked to the point of being grayish or light brown, it will be overcooked and taste gamey.

  • Caroline

    Ours tasted horribly gamey.
    The meat was tough and still red. We did add 12 min. to the time and thought perhaps it had some freezer burn. A friend gave us 12 of them. (we only cooked one –to try it out.)
    The 13 yo son was the one who found this recipe and he was the “cook”, He was very disappointed.
    The gravy was good and the wild rice and I made garlic mashed potatoes.

    • Elise

      Hi Caroline, so you added 12 minutes to the given cooking time? That would certainly make it taste gamey! Wild duck needs to be cooked rare. As in very very red. Any piece of the meat that gets cooked more than rare is going to taste like liver.

  • valerie

    Hi Elise,
    found your recipe a few months ago. This recipe, although simple, made the teals fabulous. My only problem, was the salt rub part. I ended up using a small towel and rubbing the salt off and then doing a quick hot water rinse.

    It was sooo salt on the first one I tested but once I rinsed off it was great. What is the purpose of the salt rub? I wonder why mine was too strong. Any ideas for future? Hunting season starts this weekend again and can’t wait to try this again.
    Valerie
    Elkhorn, NE

    • Elise

      Hi Valerie, I think the word “generously” in relation to how much to salt the teal is what could have thrown you off. I removed it so now it just says “sprinkle with salt”.

  • Dan Davis

    Oh , I forgot to add this- try your recipe served with Garlic Cheese Grits and some steamed veggies for a great change up to the wild rice (the rice is pretty hard to beat!)
    And..a good Pinot Noir.
    D. Davis

  • Dan Davis

    Your recipe is an awesome one , I have duck hunted for a long time and over the years gotten away from cooking them whole, the plucking is a bit of work- we usually breast them out; but this recipe makes it well worth the time. Can’t stress the need for those trying any duck recipe to really spend some prep time in soaking, washing & cleaning the meat well- then marinate for at least a few hours (a day is better), with a product called Allegro, a special wild game marinade that is available in most grocery stores. I love to hunt ’em , and REALLY love to cook/eat ’em.
    D. Davis
    Brandon , MS

  • Molly

    My dad and I use to split the duck breasts, stuff with pepper jack cheese and wrap in bacon and then grill.

  • Andy O'Malley

    Utterly Delicious! I am a very avid hunter, and have cooked a LOT of wild ducks various ways. The teal i cooked tonight with this recipe is now the best duck I have ever cooked!

    My meal was overflowing with flavors.

  • j

    Oh, thank you for this. I’m planning a family dinner with wild duck, and it’s been hard finding a good recipe specifically for wild duck (especially one that’s been tested with results noted and photos). I’m going into this blind so this helps immensely.

    The only thing I’m worrying about is serving it rare – doesn’t seem like the sort of thing my family will necessarily go for. Maybe I’ll try one rare for myself and wrap the others with bacon and try to cook them a bit longer.

    We’ll see. I’ll try to remember to post the results in a week.

    Hi J, the thing with wild duck is that if you cook it anything but rare, it’s just going to taste like liver, not like the domesticated duck that you might be used to. ~Elise

  • Jimbo

    I roasted a wood duck and a green-wing teal last night in almost strict compliance with your recipe. Deviation was as follows: ceramic baking dish rather than roasting tray (longer cook time was required because of this), covered the ducks in bacon and poured red wine over them about 70% of the way through the cook time. 450 for 35 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and add wine, cook for 15 minutes. The teal was ever-so-slightly overdone (in the future I will cook teal this way for only 25 minutes @ 450, or maybe less) but the woodie looked like a medium-rare steak. A big duck like a gadwall, mallard, pintail or widgeon would be perfect.

    Fantastic. I omitted the sherry for the sauce since I had added red wine, but the cream was an incredible addition. Really, really, really good over wild rice.

    I’ve been hunting and eating wild ducks since I was a child but this is hands down the best way to cook them that I have found.

    While we ate, I marveled a bit at the thought that one must go out in the cold and wet to kill a duck in order to enjoy that delicate combination of flavors.

    Anyway, GREAT recipe. It’s my new bread and butter.

  • Randi Lynne

    Your recipe collection constantly amazes me.

    I had a friend give me a few mallards to cook. I followed your recipe above. Cooked them for 16 minutes and they were still raw. I cooked for 4 more minutes and they were perfect. The meat tasted wonderful. Thanks for the advice. I am definitely making stock with the bones.

  • Sinead

    Hi Elise,

    Just wanted to say that I used your recipe for a couple of Teals I bought from my butcher. Never had anything like it before – DELICIOUS!!! Thank you so much for the recipe – its gone in the book and I will definately use it again.

    Sinead
    Canterbury, UK

  • Nanette

    Wowie Zowie!

    Apparently, I’ve been cooking my teal the wrong way. This was out of this world!

    The only changes I made were: Omitted Rosemary, added a garlic clove, and cooked an extra 5 minutes or so.

    They were still rare, and as tasty as can be. Thanks for posting this recipe. It’s a “keeper”.

    Nanette
    Poplarville, MS

    Teal was from Breaux Bridge, LA

  • Mrs. L

    Wonder if pheasants would be cooked the same? My husband hunts them and usually has them smoked but every once in a while he brings one home to cook. Know if I could cook them like the duck here?

  • ejm

    It has been years since the one and only time I ate wild duck. I remember it being very very oily and wild tasting. And lots of bones. I was young and still in my “reluctant to try anything new and different” phase. (They were Mallards, as I recall.)

    Your ducks look fantastic! How I wish that we knew some duck hunters so we could try this too!

    We just recently roasted a domestic duck (I’m in the process of putting together a post about it). And you’re right. A duck carcass makes fantastic stock. We added an onion, carrot, celery and some herbs to the water for making our duck stock.

    Once the stock was made, we reduced it and served it under a grilled chop. The amazing thing was that we added zero salt to the stock but when it was reduced, it needed no salt. It was fabulous!

    -Elizabeth

  • Hank

    Yep, the Indians did the mud trick. Never done it before, but I bet it would be tough to peel without ripping the skin.

  • sabi

    I have no personal experience cooking a wild duck, but my grandfather often used to talk about how when camping, he used to cook with the mud from around the lake where the bird was killed. he explained it was necessary to remove only the neck, leave the feathers and everything else, then start covering it with mud until having something similar to a sphere. he would place it in the fire and wait until it cracked open, then the feathers would come off easily while removing the dried mud and the meat would be juicy and ready to eat!
    like I’ve said, I have no personal experience… so I have no idea if this is even possible, and I guess there are to many things to consider before doing something like this, but if I ever have the chance I think I’m going to give it a try!

  • Garrett

    Hank gave me a spoonie duck, which was delicious. WHen I first cut into it it was so dark red, almost purple, that I was afraid I under-cooked it. Not so! Very delicious and the strong, heady, gamey scent that dominated the kitchen was absolutely wonderful!

  • NorCal Cazadora

    Hey, I recognize that duck in your left hand! That one was mine.

    If anyone would like to explore the connection between nature and the dinner table, you can read the story of that hunt here:

    http://norcalcazadora.blogspot.com/2008/01/duck-hunting-with-boys-in-delta.html

    You’ll also be treated to an insider’s view of a very manly duck club (and I use the word “treated” loosely).

    Thanks for the shout-out, Elise!

    -Holly

  • Hank

    Hey all,

    The ducks I gave Elise are from Northern California, which is a wintering ground – as is the Mississippi Delta. So what? That means most of our ducks are fat and lovely, thus no bacon rashers are needed. Occasionally I will get a skinny duck (wigeon are notorious for this) and then I use the bacon, or I’ll slather duck fat under the skin of the breasts.

    And Belinda, wild duck is perfectly good cooked to medium. But no farther…

  • Belinda

    Elise, I could kiss you for this. Alex and I (yes, *I* am going too, though I can’t hit the broad side of a barn) are going back out to the “duck woods” this weekend, and we already have a plentiful stock of mallard breasts on hand.

    We’ve been breasting them, since there seems to be so very LITTLE meat on the rest of the bird, hardly worth the trouble of dressing them out. I’m re-thinking that now. Hmmmm.

    Do you have any notes on preparing boneless, skinless breast of wild duck? Alex filleted them beautifully, and he’s really a great shot, so there was zero buckshot in the meat. They’ve been soaked in slightly briny water (soaking for a few hours, then changing the water, repeating until the water stays clear) and then vacuum-sealed.

    Personally, *I* don’t really like (even recently from a 5-star restaurant, where they prepared it to my taste, for which I was grateful) rare duck, but then I don’t like any meat rare, even beef.

    I wish you were local–we would fill your freezer!

  • Sarah

    We always roasted wild duck stuffed with apples and onions, and with a couple strips of bacon laid over the breasts since wild duck tends to have very little fat. Served with crabapple jelly, yum.

  • Hank

    I’m Hank Shaw and I approve of that recipe! (can you tell it’s election season?) You can never go wrong with a sherry cream sauce. Glad you liked the teal, Elise. They will not be the last…