I know Cinco de Mayo was last week, but in my world, every night of the year is worthy of good tacos. This recipe is a great way to put the last of the late-season mallards to use, though the sweet and spicy blend of seasoning works equally well with about any type of duck or even a venison steak. I started with a riff on my favorite coffee-based duck rub, but upped the heat and added some lime juice and tequila for some south-of-the-border flair. Grilled over a hot fire so the skin gets crispy and the inside stays nearly blood-rare, it’s the star ingredient for a weeknight taco party.
Grilled Mallard Tacos Recipe**
– Two mallard breasts
– Corn tortillas
– Pickled red onion (see recipe below)
– Sliced jalapeños
– Shredded cabbage
– Grilled avocado
– Cojita or queso blanco, crumbled
For the Pickled Red Onion
– ¼ cup red wine vinegar
– 1 cup water
– 1 tbs. kosher salt
– ½ red onion, sliced thin
For the Rub
– 3 Tbsp. ground coffee
– 3 Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
– 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
– 1 tsp. cumin
– 1 tsp. garlic powder
– 1 tsp. cayenne
– 1 jigger of tequila
– Juice and zest of two limes
1. Make the pickled onions: Heat the vinegar, water, and salt until boiling and the salt is dissolved. Add the red onion and remove from heat. Cool before serving.
2. Make the rub: Whisk the dry ingredients together, then stir in the tequila, lime juice, and zest to make a paste.
3. Using a sharp knife, make several scores 1/4-inch apart across the skin side of the duck breasts. Thoroughly coat the duck breasts with the rub and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
4. Thirty minutes before your ready to cook, fire up the charcoal or, if using a propane grill, preheat grill to high. When the coals are ready or the grill is hot, rub the grates with a paper towel dipped in canola oil and let it preheat for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Place each breast skin side down and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Turn and continue cooking until a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts reads 125 degrees. Remove the duck breasts from grill and let rest at least 5 minutes.
6. Slice the breasts thinly across the grain and serve with warmed corn tortillas, red onion, cabbage, jalapeños, pickled onions and cheese.