Duck Hunting photo

“I love to duck hunt, and I love to prepare them in the manner of porchetta–a boned, stuffed, and crisp Italian pork roast. This recipe will work with mallards, wood ducks, pintails, and green- or bluewing teal. And the quince sauce that accompanies the duck is excellent with any roasted gamebird, venison, or pork.”

Editors’ Take: Yes, there are a lot of ingredients listed here. And, yes, you’ll need to do more butchering than usual. (When you dress the birds, remove the head, neck, backbone, and breastbone; leave the wings and drumsticks intact.) But the cooking time is short, and your efforts will be rewarded with a dish that looks beautiful and tastes delicious.

4 deboned mallards
1⁄4 cup bacon
1 cup yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup wild mushrooms, sliced
1⁄2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
4 thin slices -country ham
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1⁄2 cup quince preserves
1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar
1⁄4 cup chicken stock
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ginger

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, fry bacon (roughly chopped) for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and wild mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to high. You’ll notice a good amount of liquid forming in the pan, which you’ll want to reduce until relatively dry before removing from heat, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat. Add bread crumbs, porcini, red pepper flakes, thyme, and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well and allow the mixture to cool. This will be the stuffing for the duck, so taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
4. Lay the ducks flat, skin side down, on a cutting board and season the breast and leg meat with a touch of salt and pepper. Lay a slice of country ham over each bird. Place a quarter of the stuffing mixture on top of each slice of country ham.
5. Carefully wrap the breast of each duck around the stuffing, so that the stuffing is completely enveloped. Tie two strands of butcher’s twine around the body so the duck will retain its shape while it cooks. Gather the tips of the drumsticks and secure them with butcher’s twine. Rub the outside of each trussed duck with a touch of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
6. Place ducks, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Immediately reduce the oven to 200 degrees and roast the birds for 15 minutes. (I recommend cooking the ducks until they’re warm in the center, which yields a bird that’s medium roasted.)
7. For the sauce, combine all ingredients (mince the shallot, garlic, and ginger) in a saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a serving bowl, discarding the solids. Step 8 Remove the twine from each duck. Serve the duck and sauce together.
John Besh is the chef of Restaurant August in New Orleans._