By Calvin Josey
July 29, 2018 - As we sit at the cusp of a new waterfowl season dreams of teals, mallards, and shovelers fill our minds with anticipation. However, the under appreciated “diver” ducks should have their fair place of contention with the above-mentioned puddle ducks. Over the years “diver” ducks have been given a bad wrap and I am here to tell you that you can put that rumor to rest and look forward to many social gatherings where your diver duck will be the talk of the party. I have heard my fellow waterfowlers refer to scaups, buffleheads, and redheads as being the foul, unpleasant, and often times down right despicable. This whole concept led me to come up with the idea of a dive bar duck breast recipe that is sure to have your guests coming back for more. The basic concept involves flavors you would find at your local dive bar or hipster marketplace. The reduction will involve a favorite craft beer of your choice, so choose wisely!
After shooting my birds I prefer to pluck them, and I immediately prepare a brine to soak it in for at least 24 hours. This allows the bird to absorb some earthy undertones while also acting as a means of tenderizing the meat and breaking down proteins. After the bird has soaked remove it from the brine and place it in a paper bag and roll it up. I let it sit for another 24 hours to allow the outside of the bird to dry out a bit while keeping the moisture inside the duck itself. Save the brine as this will come in useful later.
Dive Bar Duck Breast Steps
1. Go get your favorite craft beer (we prefer Karbach or Deschutes brews)
2. Once you have done the brine using the recipe below, move on to marinating the (2) duck breasts (recipe below).
3. After your duck has marinated for a few hours place in a cast iron on a medium heat and cook to just below your preferred temperature. I prefer medium temperature.
4. Take the duck out of the cast iron and keep it warm in the oven. In the same cast iron (or deep skillet), make the reduction (recipe below).
5. Once you have the reduction, add the duck back in to the cast iron and mix together. Voila, Dive Bar Duck Breast!
The Brine (for a 2-3 lb bird)
- ½ Tablespoon of whole cloves
- ½ Tablespoon of juniper berries
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1/3 cup of fresh chopped ginger
- 1 cup of salt
I brine my entire duck in this recipe, but I cut the breast out and boil the remaining portion of the duck in the brine to later use for duck and dumplings. It really brings out a great flavor in the duck and makes a great stock for later use.
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 5 fresh cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 8 whole cloves (or crushed juniper berries, or both!)
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- Enough olive oil to cover
- 1 craft beer of your choice about 1 1/4 cup (I chose Deshutes brewery obsidian stout which has tones of espresso and dark chocolate and is also award winning. Go big or go home, right?)
- 1 cup of granulated honey or cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
*Let the beer stand in the pot for at least 30 minutes prior to preparation to allow the carbonation to settle some
Bring beer to temperature and slowly add honey or sugar while stirring continuously. Add the honey and rosemary next and continue to simmer while stirring every 15 minutes or so for at least an hour and a half or until reduction becomes syrupy. *Note the process of cooling down will thicken it quite a bit.
Pineapple with a Punch
- 1 pineapple peeled and sliced about an inch thick
Coat pineapple in a liberal amount of powdered ginger, Saigon cinnamon, and chili powder and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
*I like to use J.R. Watkins Brand seasoning. They have been around for over a century and make great products.
Potato Cakes Fried in Duck Fat
- 1 lb of potatoes
- ¼ cup of melted butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
- Duck fat (I rendered mine down from the extra duck skin)