About a month or so ago I finally got all my plans in order and booked a hunting trip with a local guide to see if I can get myself some wild ducks. It’s been many years since I’ve been hunting but finally I get myself a gun, license and practiced some clay shooting at local range to get the rust out of my shooting. In no small way I have Hank Shaw to thank for the motivation. To say his hunting, fishing and cooking articles at his blog and in his book, “Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast” were inspiring is an understatement. All in all, I ended up with several mallards that day and a couple of nice teal. Teal are small, about the size of a pigeon and are supposed to be delicious so I wanted to show them off by cooking them whole.
I roasted them simply by following Hank’s instruction. I first seasoned them with salt and a mixture of orange zest, allspice and thyme. I then baked the birds in a very hot oven to a medium rare. That worked well for the breasts, but honestly I was not crazy about the texture of the legs. They remained a bit tough for my liking and the skin did not crisp as well as I would’ve liked either. The flavor of the teal though was very good. They tasted rich and robust but not too gamy. I’m glad I made a full-flavored sauce to go with them. The sauce is from a Mario Batali recipe in the Babbo Cookbook and it’s not much more than a reduced red wine sauce flavored with allspice and cloves. Batali serves it with venison and a pumpkin caponata.
I took another page from that recipe and made a much simplified version of that caponata using Delicata squash which is amazingly sweet. I roasted it and then tossed it with sauteed onions, raisins and red wine. To make this more substantial I tossed the squash with cooked farro. The combination was very tasty, like a rustic and comforting risotto. The flavor of the birds was wonderful with the spiced wine sauce and the earthy squash farro.
One thought on “Roasted Teal with Delicata Squash, Farro and Spiced Red Wine Sauce”
Congrats on your first hunt, Ellie! And yeah, roasting a whole duck – wild or domestic – is far harder than roasting a chicken. I’ve grown to like the medium-cooked legs on small ducks, but for the mallards, do this:
Roast in the usual way, watching the breast temperature. When it hits 130 or wherever, take the birds out and carve off the breasts whole. Tent with foil and set aside. Put the birds back in the oven and roast until the legs are done, about another 15 minutes. If you want to “refresh” the breasts, sear *just* the skin in a pan for a minute or two.