October 07, 2013
Cookbook Review: Hank Shaw Keeps it Real With 'Duck, Duck, Goose'
By David Draper
As I write this, hunter, angler, forager, and blogger Hank Shaw is somewhere in the upper Midwest, cruising along on an epic around-the-country tour to promote his newest cookbook “Duck, Duck, Goose," which was released just last week. I think most Wild Chef readers are familiar with Shaw and his epicurean approach to feasting on nature's bounty. His Website, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook, is probably the preeminent source on the Internet for wild-game cooking and, as the title belies, his new cookbook focuses solely on his passions for waterfowl.
In some of his published writing and recipes, Shaw can get a bit preachy, with a habit of talking well above the heads of most home cooks and assuming everyone has ready access to obscure ingredients. Honestly, I expected this book to hit that high tone, but I'm happy to report in Duck, Duck, Goose Shaw keeps things real, for the most part, and deals in just the right blend of aspiration and accessibility. Every recipe, save for a few (the notoriously impossible Peking Duck for example), are within reach of nearly all home cooks. Only in the “Extras” section, which deals with offal and charcuterie, do the recipes require specialized techniques or extra effort—but that is to be expected.
My comment about Shaw's style shouldn't be taken as a jibe. More so than any other modern cook, he's raised the bar of what hunters can accomplish in the kitchen. If his tone is at times brash, it's because he's challenging the rest of us to keep up. He's also well familiar with common refrain about the inedibility of wild game and has taken it upon himself to preach from the pulpit in an effort to educate the unwashed and uniformed masses.
We all know waterfowlers who love to hunt web-footed birds, yet loudly proclaim "Ducks taste like s--t." It makes you wonder what that person does with all those birds. Next time you share a blind with one of these oafs, recommend Hank Shaw's “Duck, Duck, Goose.” I wouldn't, however, offer to lend them your copy: It's much too good to let it out of your kitchen, and I promise once you crack the cover, you'll never again be at a loss with what to do with a limit of ducks.