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Chad Love: Best Tasting Ducks

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November 13, 2009

Chad Love: Best Tasting Ducks

By Chad Love

OK, waterfowl hunters, here's a question for you: if you had a chance to hand over one of your ducks to a world-class chef and have him turn it into a meal fit for the most discriminating of gourmands, what species of duck would you choose?
 
Believe it or not, this isn't a hypothetical question, at least for California duck hunters.
 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With fall duck hunting season about to take flight, Sacramento’s own Grange Restaurant & Bar is giving area hunters the chance to bring their (dearly departed) feathered friends into the restaurant and pay respects in delicious style as part of an exclusive four-course meal prepared by acclaimed Executive Chef Michael Tuohy. As the ducks make their fall pilgrimages across ...

... the Pacific Flyaway, a select few will have a “shot” at becoming part of this memorable dining experience. Beginning October and continuing through January, hunters are able to bring their bounty into Grange 48 hours prior to dinner reservations. Not one to take the birds’ sacrifice lightly, Chef Tuohy will meet with each hunter and then create an amazing dinner menu, ensuring that the birds do not meet their delicious fates in vain. With a final ”bill” of only $75 per person, local hunters would be “quacks” to miss out on the repast.

A leader in California’s Slow Food movement, Chef Tuohy selects from seasonal and locally grown ingredients, nearly all of which are found within 100 miles of Sacramento. “This is the perfect opportunity to provide guests with a unique dining experience that celebrates the bounty of California and lives up to our mission of providing the best this region has to offer,” said Tuohy.  “We take great pride in being on the forefront of this Slow Food movement in Northern California, and our American Brasserie inspired menu options change daily to reflect this commitment.”

How cool is that? You make your reservations, go shoot a duck (hopefully), take it straight to the restaurant, kick back in your waders, have a drink and before you know it you're being served a four-star epicurean delight. You kill it. We cook it, but with style and panache. I think it's a brilliant idea and I'd gladly pay $75 for the opportunity to sit amongst a crowd of upscale diners, smug in the knowledge I was the only one gnoshing on something that I'd personally killed that morning.

But what duck to take? It would have to be something special. I've eaten pretty much everything, and if you asked me what my favorite-eating duck is, I'd say teal, but that's not what I'd hand over. Oh, no. Why? Too easy. Anyone can make a teal delicious. Real chefs like a challenge, so when I walked through the door I'd have a common merganser on my duck strap. OK, Chef Tuohy, let's see what you can do with that... 

Comments (20)

Top Rated
All Comments
from ckRich wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Hahaha, when I was reading the article I was thinking the same thing: Make it a challenge, take merganser!

Good thinkin Chad. I'm curious as to if there are any good places here in Oklahoma that would consider doing something like this?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Oh, just wait until BIG MEAT gets ahold of this. Heaven forbid! Uninspected, not covered in $***, never fell on a slaughterhouse floor, but clean, organic, best fit to survive food. Yumaroonies! !

Make mine a mallard with some sort of (seedless, I'll pick them out myself, if I have to) raspberry sauce with a few shreds of good California orange zest.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

On more than one occasion, I've taken geese to a local chinese place as a gift to the owners. One night they didn't bring what I had ordered, but instead goose stir fry. I'd take the chef a black mallard.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

This is great. California hipsterism and pro-hunting in the same sentence. Maybe some of them have finally realized that hunting is the most green, organic, free-range, natural diet, local, slow, and sustainable way there is to eat. It even beats vegans. It hits on all their buzzwords, but it's still somehow the pinnacle of evil to them. Maybe they've seen the light.

I like black ducks. To me it's the classic North American duck. Maybe it's a New England/Northeast thing.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

That is one fine Cheesie pose! I hope to have my Lab in a similar pose this weekend!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Thanks, WA Mtnhunter, that's my little female, Tessie the chessie, last weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I too would bring a black duck, mostly because they are the species of duck I eat the most and would enjoy sampling an experts take on preparing them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Teal,teal,teal!!!!If I (yes,me) can make good teal,what can a professional chef do?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Thanks, Shane. The poor vegans just can't take a single helping of the truth, can they?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from idduckhntr wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Hmm lets see Pintail, teal woodduck and canvasback come to mind. I grew up south of Sac and I'll tell you they have no shortage of woodys or specks and sprig.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Funny you should mention merganser. Yesterday Chef Tuohy and my boyfriend, Hank Shaw (Hunter Angler Gardener Cook) did a wild duck cookoff at Grange to kick off the restaurant's new program. (Yes, they called it Duck Off!)

Hank and I supplied all the ducks, and at one point someone cracked a joke about having given Tuohy some mergansers to stack the deck in Hank's favor. Only one of the judges laughed - Bob McLandress, president of California Waterfowl.

If you want to read about the Duck Off, go here: http://www.honest-food.net/blog1/2009/11/13/king-for-a-day-the-great-duc... (sorry for the shameless promotion, Chad - I warned ya!).

And for the record, the ducks they used were all teal and mallard, though we're pretty sure the hearts, livers and gizzards came from every kind of duck we hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank Shaw wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Having just competed against Chef Tuohy in the Duck Off, which opened Grange's duck hunter dinners, I can tell you that he has the skills to make a lawn dart taste good. It was an honor to cook with him.

I saved whole teal and mallards for the competition, although there were plenty of spoonie legs in the mix, too, and I had bags of gizzards, livers and hearts. I even made duck sausage and stuffed it into a snow goose neck. We used everything but the quack...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from yohan wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Chad if I was gonna pay the money going from experiance
have to give the duck doctor, who ever he was, a big fat Mallard.
Years ago I knew a guy who was fed up with certian aspects of larger city life ,. he had been a chef at one of Milwaukee's famous Redturants ,..
What that guy didn't know about prepairing water fowl probabaly not worth knowing .
He prefered teal too ,. but Mallards ( fat ones ) were his second choice,
One way he did em was stuff em with apricotts oranges apples and onions with a number of spices he would not divulge but I think he some how snuck some honey and soy souce in the stuffing .
Served with wild rice done right ( which is an art in it self) butterniut squash cranberry , roasted pares and cruchy french bread ,.. truly a meal fit for a king,... or an American Duckhunter
He would as i said stuff them sew up the cavity then then put em on a grill using wood ( oak) and indirect heat ,..so they kinda smoked a little ,.
That was worth the price of admission ,.. which to us was free ,. he didnt hunt and we couldnt hold his gum when it came to cooking ,. so we killed em he cooked em and a as he put it "A gute time vos het by by all".
The guy was so German he made me laugh .

So to me ,. "the me kill em,. you cook em notion , is a tremendous idea . Good for the resturaunt buis good for the hunter that dosnet cook or decides not to,.. and it creats " a whole nother market" ,..maybe even get a few more of the tender gender involved ,.
I hope the idea "takes" nation wide. For sure Im on board with it

About dogs Chessies
After my Chessie died I kinda lost interest in the ducks and geese
Always thought phesants were too easy (no offence to anyone whos opionion is different) and he my Chessie would simply ingnore grouse and phesants anyway.
He was a charachter,. so it was almost like he was thinking ,.. well ya I know,. but hell ,.they dont quack or honk so whats the point.

Still hunt deer and other stuff ,. but without him ,.the marshes and sloughs and rivers just not the same.
Which is Ok,. there is a time for all things

I remember that dog deciding he was gonna get a goose ( through the ice) on the Wisconsin river
He never "broke" before that,. but what ever took hold of him that day made him jump ,.. thinking back ( at least 5000 times) I should never have shot the bird ,.. too dangerous for the dog,..
But,.. big goose almost 10 lbs,.. heat of the moment,. bang.
He got it but nearly got killed getting back,.. (Ice was orming and big sheets were comming down,..
After that he went so far looking for a duck on lake Michigan I told my self thats it ,. hunt only in decent weather ,..and no big water
You bet ,.next fall steelheading and hunting waaaay up Nort ,. lake superior ,.. away he went ,. out on the waves ,. thought for a while he was headed to Thunder bay,.. that was 45 min retrieve ,..and that scared me more than the him dodging ice floes with a big goose in tow.

For some very long minuts We coldn't even see him .
Too rough to launch the small skiff we had my buddy finally said Yo ,. im not sure he's gonna make it back,..its been 1/2 an hour ,..

I just stood there feeling like some one reached inside me and was twisting my guts
Still I had watched him swimm for hours for fun,.
in a small local lake so i didnt give up hope ,.. yet
But this was Lake Superior, in fall and it was cold.
How long could even he take it? .
Fog was thick then thin with big rollers and the wind was opicking up but it was blowing mostly in.
I just hoped he was on his way back
About he time I was gonna start to let myself think my buddy might be right .
I heard a littel whine ,.. sometyhing he always did when he was getting close to shore ,
Not to be mellow dramtic but hope shot through me like an arrow ..
The fog was thick and i was stareing into it like a perosn possessed wondering if I actually heard what I heard then for few seconds it thinned out ,..30 yds out there he was comming down the front of big roller ,.. duck in tow .
Never so glad to see anything in my life .

He (Max) liked cheeseburgers ,. he got 3 that night and while he slept in front of the fire ,. he was still hunting in his dreams ,. twitching and whining
We slept in the next morning,. we were all tuckered
But by noon he was noseing the decoy bags and sniffing the guns which was his signal he was ready to hunt .

So all that to say unless youve owned a Chessie ,or maybe better said,. been owned by a Chessie
.. you aint had a duck and goose dog.

Tessie the Chessie ,. give her a pat for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NYhunter wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Green wing teal!!!!! The best tasting duck that fly's in NY!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Easy- teal, or a "green head".
Chalange - COOT !(mud hen !)
Make that taste good Chef !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Big O,
You stole my thunder on handing the chef a coot!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I like the idea of taking him something difficult to cook, but I would take in some wood ducks. Woodies are definitely my favorite eating duck.

yrs-
Evan!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dakohta14 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

either a pitail or a canvasback but i would also go for wigan

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

teal but then you leave hungry. I'd say a Sprig that's been in the rice for a couple months. The lighter colored flesh tops mallards and the other puddlers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ScottyBee wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

www.duckcommander.com <--They'll be able to tell you which are best tasting. :P Lol, them boys hunt like MAD crazy! Every day of duck season, even Sundays. Then again, they are filming but still, that's a ton of duck hunting lol.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from shane wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

This is great. California hipsterism and pro-hunting in the same sentence. Maybe some of them have finally realized that hunting is the most green, organic, free-range, natural diet, local, slow, and sustainable way there is to eat. It even beats vegans. It hits on all their buzzwords, but it's still somehow the pinnacle of evil to them. Maybe they've seen the light.

I like black ducks. To me it's the classic North American duck. Maybe it's a New England/Northeast thing.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Oh, just wait until BIG MEAT gets ahold of this. Heaven forbid! Uninspected, not covered in $***, never fell on a slaughterhouse floor, but clean, organic, best fit to survive food. Yumaroonies! !

Make mine a mallard with some sort of (seedless, I'll pick them out myself, if I have to) raspberry sauce with a few shreds of good California orange zest.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I too would bring a black duck, mostly because they are the species of duck I eat the most and would enjoy sampling an experts take on preparing them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from idduckhntr wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Hmm lets see Pintail, teal woodduck and canvasback come to mind. I grew up south of Sac and I'll tell you they have no shortage of woodys or specks and sprig.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Hahaha, when I was reading the article I was thinking the same thing: Make it a challenge, take merganser!

Good thinkin Chad. I'm curious as to if there are any good places here in Oklahoma that would consider doing something like this?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

On more than one occasion, I've taken geese to a local chinese place as a gift to the owners. One night they didn't bring what I had ordered, but instead goose stir fry. I'd take the chef a black mallard.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

That is one fine Cheesie pose! I hope to have my Lab in a similar pose this weekend!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Thanks, WA Mtnhunter, that's my little female, Tessie the chessie, last weekend.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Teal,teal,teal!!!!If I (yes,me) can make good teal,what can a professional chef do?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Thanks, Shane. The poor vegans just can't take a single helping of the truth, can they?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Funny you should mention merganser. Yesterday Chef Tuohy and my boyfriend, Hank Shaw (Hunter Angler Gardener Cook) did a wild duck cookoff at Grange to kick off the restaurant's new program. (Yes, they called it Duck Off!)

Hank and I supplied all the ducks, and at one point someone cracked a joke about having given Tuohy some mergansers to stack the deck in Hank's favor. Only one of the judges laughed - Bob McLandress, president of California Waterfowl.

If you want to read about the Duck Off, go here: http://www.honest-food.net/blog1/2009/11/13/king-for-a-day-the-great-duc... (sorry for the shameless promotion, Chad - I warned ya!).

And for the record, the ducks they used were all teal and mallard, though we're pretty sure the hearts, livers and gizzards came from every kind of duck we hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank Shaw wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Having just competed against Chef Tuohy in the Duck Off, which opened Grange's duck hunter dinners, I can tell you that he has the skills to make a lawn dart taste good. It was an honor to cook with him.

I saved whole teal and mallards for the competition, although there were plenty of spoonie legs in the mix, too, and I had bags of gizzards, livers and hearts. I even made duck sausage and stuffed it into a snow goose neck. We used everything but the quack...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from yohan wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Chad if I was gonna pay the money going from experiance
have to give the duck doctor, who ever he was, a big fat Mallard.
Years ago I knew a guy who was fed up with certian aspects of larger city life ,. he had been a chef at one of Milwaukee's famous Redturants ,..
What that guy didn't know about prepairing water fowl probabaly not worth knowing .
He prefered teal too ,. but Mallards ( fat ones ) were his second choice,
One way he did em was stuff em with apricotts oranges apples and onions with a number of spices he would not divulge but I think he some how snuck some honey and soy souce in the stuffing .
Served with wild rice done right ( which is an art in it self) butterniut squash cranberry , roasted pares and cruchy french bread ,.. truly a meal fit for a king,... or an American Duckhunter
He would as i said stuff them sew up the cavity then then put em on a grill using wood ( oak) and indirect heat ,..so they kinda smoked a little ,.
That was worth the price of admission ,.. which to us was free ,. he didnt hunt and we couldnt hold his gum when it came to cooking ,. so we killed em he cooked em and a as he put it "A gute time vos het by by all".
The guy was so German he made me laugh .

So to me ,. "the me kill em,. you cook em notion , is a tremendous idea . Good for the resturaunt buis good for the hunter that dosnet cook or decides not to,.. and it creats " a whole nother market" ,..maybe even get a few more of the tender gender involved ,.
I hope the idea "takes" nation wide. For sure Im on board with it

About dogs Chessies
After my Chessie died I kinda lost interest in the ducks and geese
Always thought phesants were too easy (no offence to anyone whos opionion is different) and he my Chessie would simply ingnore grouse and phesants anyway.
He was a charachter,. so it was almost like he was thinking ,.. well ya I know,. but hell ,.they dont quack or honk so whats the point.

Still hunt deer and other stuff ,. but without him ,.the marshes and sloughs and rivers just not the same.
Which is Ok,. there is a time for all things

I remember that dog deciding he was gonna get a goose ( through the ice) on the Wisconsin river
He never "broke" before that,. but what ever took hold of him that day made him jump ,.. thinking back ( at least 5000 times) I should never have shot the bird ,.. too dangerous for the dog,..
But,.. big goose almost 10 lbs,.. heat of the moment,. bang.
He got it but nearly got killed getting back,.. (Ice was orming and big sheets were comming down,..
After that he went so far looking for a duck on lake Michigan I told my self thats it ,. hunt only in decent weather ,..and no big water
You bet ,.next fall steelheading and hunting waaaay up Nort ,. lake superior ,.. away he went ,. out on the waves ,. thought for a while he was headed to Thunder bay,.. that was 45 min retrieve ,..and that scared me more than the him dodging ice floes with a big goose in tow.

For some very long minuts We coldn't even see him .
Too rough to launch the small skiff we had my buddy finally said Yo ,. im not sure he's gonna make it back,..its been 1/2 an hour ,..

I just stood there feeling like some one reached inside me and was twisting my guts
Still I had watched him swimm for hours for fun,.
in a small local lake so i didnt give up hope ,.. yet
But this was Lake Superior, in fall and it was cold.
How long could even he take it? .
Fog was thick then thin with big rollers and the wind was opicking up but it was blowing mostly in.
I just hoped he was on his way back
About he time I was gonna start to let myself think my buddy might be right .
I heard a littel whine ,.. sometyhing he always did when he was getting close to shore ,
Not to be mellow dramtic but hope shot through me like an arrow ..
The fog was thick and i was stareing into it like a perosn possessed wondering if I actually heard what I heard then for few seconds it thinned out ,..30 yds out there he was comming down the front of big roller ,.. duck in tow .
Never so glad to see anything in my life .

He (Max) liked cheeseburgers ,. he got 3 that night and while he slept in front of the fire ,. he was still hunting in his dreams ,. twitching and whining
We slept in the next morning,. we were all tuckered
But by noon he was noseing the decoy bags and sniffing the guns which was his signal he was ready to hunt .

So all that to say unless youve owned a Chessie ,or maybe better said,. been owned by a Chessie
.. you aint had a duck and goose dog.

Tessie the Chessie ,. give her a pat for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NYhunter wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Green wing teal!!!!! The best tasting duck that fly's in NY!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Easy- teal, or a "green head".
Chalange - COOT !(mud hen !)
Make that taste good Chef !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Big O,
You stole my thunder on handing the chef a coot!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I like the idea of taking him something difficult to cook, but I would take in some wood ducks. Woodies are definitely my favorite eating duck.

yrs-
Evan!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dakohta14 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

either a pitail or a canvasback but i would also go for wigan

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

teal but then you leave hungry. I'd say a Sprig that's been in the rice for a couple months. The lighter colored flesh tops mallards and the other puddlers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ScottyBee wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

www.duckcommander.com <--They'll be able to tell you which are best tasting. :P Lol, them boys hunt like MAD crazy! Every day of duck season, even Sundays. Then again, they are filming but still, that's a ton of duck hunting lol.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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