Sunday, September 03, 2006

The folly of teal

When I used to hunt--and it's been a while--duck and goose hunting was always my favorite. I liked dove and quail, too, and went deer hunting on occasion. But of all the wild game meats, duck or goose always got my mouth watering (and this does not discount my well-known affinity for good venison). So when my brother John gave me six teal ducks some months back, I was quite excited. I hadn't had duck or goose in years, so I wanted to do something special with them.

The timing worked out today that I was able to fix them for dinner. I'd tracked down a nifty recipe online as well--I wasn't going to simply broil or bake them with vegetables, not with this being the introduction to duck for my family (yes, none of them had ever had duck before, not even Lisa). The recipe was for baked teal in apple cream sauce:
Place onion and garlic in a small, shallow roasting pan. Arrange teal in a single layer, skin side up, in pan. Pour apple juice over teals. Sprinkle teals with paprika, salt and pepper. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil; add apple wedges. Stir together cream and 1 Tablespoon flour with wire whisk in a small bowl; pour over teals. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes more or until teals are tender. Arrange teals and apples on hot platter; cover and keep warm. Pour pan juice into 2-quart saucepan; skim off any excess fat. Shake together water and 2 Tablespoons flour in a small jar. Stir into pan juices. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens. Spoon sauce over birds.

The premise here is that the apple would draw out the "wild" flavor of the game meat and make it more palatable for my family, since duck is a very dark meat. The birds had been skinned and cleaned already, so there was much less fat than what this recipe assumes. After cooking it, I suspect that a cider or white wine would go well in the first step. The long and short of it is that it smelled wonderful, even if it did take me two hours to fix, including prep time.

So I fix everyone's plates--side dishes and all--and call them to dinner. Lisa sits down, cuts on her teal a bit, and then asks, "Where's the white meat?" Things went rapidly downhill from there. The less said about Calista's reaction, the better. From my perspective, it turned out quite well. The apple was a bit more muted than I'd expected, which is probably due to my using Galas (which we had on hand) rather than something more tart, ala Granny Smith. I also think, in hindsight, that thoroughly pricking the birds and marinading them prior to cooking in, say, cider or maybe apple juice concentrate with a bit of lemon as well would have positive results. But now I've got four birds and sauce packed away in little Tupperware containers. I'm going to be the only person at Texas State eating teal with apple cream sauce this week, I'm pretty sure of.

Now Playing: Dvorak Symphony No. 2; Legends Op. 59, Nos 6-10

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