I Ain’t Broke But I’m Badly Bent

a little Dan Tyminski Band to hammer the point home:

I Ain’t Broke But I’m Badly Bent

and that’s the truth! Even with my favorite sausage assistant back in town (Thanks, Mom!) this challenge was…a challenge. Since my ducks didn’t arrive until last Thursday, we were in a bit of a time crunch. I could have caved in and bought duck but what is more free range, organic and in the spirit of the challenge than wild ducks shot by my brother and my nephews?! So I bought my casings and the stuffing tubes for my KA and bided my time till my duck delivery system got here from Louisiana (Thanks again, Mom!).

My brother and his boys, Kevin and Patrick, are the big hunters in the family and they were nice enough to share some of their bounty from last fall to help make my Charcutepalooza challenge really special. I had asked for 2 ducks and got 22: 1 wood duck, 1 greenhead, 1 canvasback, 1 shevler and 18 teal!!! I knew they would be very lean but my experience with duck is extremely limited- BIG emphasis on the extremely part- so imagine my surprise when I discovered that teal are about the size of a pigeon! Time for a glass of wine, some good music and a nice sharp knife then take a deep breath and jump in with both feet.

These are the big ones!

Three pairs of teal breasts (the tiny strip of meat is the tenderloin from a breasts)

I did leave the 6 that still had their heads for last but by then I had 16 ducks under my belt (as well as that glass of wine) so…

Off with their heads!

Since the boys all had to get up at the crack of dawn and sit in the cold and the ducks gave everything they had to give, I wanted to do justice by all of them. I spent 3 hours fabricating those babies and wound up with 3 pounds of breast meat plus one pair of breasts that looked worthy of turning into duck breast prosciutto (5.5 ounces!). I was able to render about a cup of fat from the skin and turned all of those little carcasses into a fabulous stock. We’re all used to the house smelling like porky goodness but this is the first time it smelled like ducky goodness. Last, but not least, there were 12 ounces of itty, bitty, little duckie legs.

Three leg & thigh quarters!!!

What does one do with a little duck fat and some little duck legs? Why, you make teeny, tiny confit, of course! The prosciutto and confit won’t be ready for a taste test in time for this post so more on those later.

Now that all of the little bits are taken care of, it’s time to step up to the grinder and get to it. After much agonizing over how we wanted to season our duck sausage, we wound up with an amalgamation of Brian Polcyn & Michael Ruhlman’s recipe from Charcuterie, Hank Shaw’s recipe from HunterAnglerGardenerCook and some personal touches of our own. The only thing we changed from the standard sausage making/stuffing directions given in Charcuterie was to use the coarse die to grind the meat and to let the sausages dry in a cool room (basement) for about 4 hours before we refrigerated them.


3 lbs duck meat, cut in 1-inch dice

1-1/2 lbs pork fat, cut in 1-inch dice

hog casings, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes and thoroughly rinsed, inside and out

3/4 tsp cinnamon (I use Penzey’s Ceylon cinnamon which is fairly mild)

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp ground star anise

1 T ground juniper berries

1 T whole caraway seeds

1 T ground black pepper

1 1/2 T Kosher salt

3 T chopped fresh sage

3 T roasted garlic

1/2 tsp pepper flakes

1/2 C red wine, chilled

1/4 C water, chilled

Grinding up the goodies

Slipping the casing on the lubricated stuffer using that universally known hand gesture

Mission accomplished

The chief sausage stuffer- thanks Mom!

and I am the chief sausage catcher

Finally... 4 1/2 lbs of lovely links

With the sausage-making done, we had to decide how we wanted to serve it. We had been so focused on the work at hand that we hadn’t even thought about that part of it. Grilled as part of a charcuterie plate or maybe gumbo? With cabbage, potatoes and carrots? Nothing really sounded worthy of all of that work. Think about it later…

Looking at the bounty of kale from the garden that was cleaned by, you guessed it, Mom (thanks – again!) I was dying to make it into a tart with some Noble Springs chevre and caramelized onions. It’s a little too much work for a week-night dinner but I had frozen a cornmeal pie crust a while back that would complement those flavors really well and turn it into an easy week-night dinner but what to serve with it? Well, duh! Duck sausage! With so much produce just starting to show up, I knew we’d figure out something delicious.

Greens and Cheese Tart

Both of these crust recipes make enough for two single-crust or one double-crust regular pie but use all of it for this tart and both are great; it just depends what you want. Using coarse, stone-ground cornmeal really gives a great texture.

The original crust I used for this tart:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons butter , cold, unsalted, cut into small pieces

5 tablespoons  ice water

In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the egg yolks and olive oil; pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. With the processor running, slowly add the ice water and process just until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cornmeal Pate Brisee from Tigress

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, pulse the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar. Add the butter, and process, until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, pour the ice water in a slow, steady stream, until the dough just holds together (Do not process for more than 30 seconds!!!). Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


1 1/2  pounds onions, very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1  pound of your favorite greens or combination of greens

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2  teaspoon pepper

salt (the amount depend on how salty your cheeses are)

1 lb goat cheese (or half goat/half cream cheese or half feta/half cream cheese or any other combination that amuses you and has the same consistency)

1/4 cup pine nuts

In a large skillet, saute the onions in the olive oil until they are dark golden brown, about 45 minutes. Stir frequently and reduce heat if they start to stick. When they are almost done, add the spices, salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Strip the greens off of the stems and wash thoroughly. Blanch until tender, drain and refresh under cold water. Drain, thoroughly dry and chop finely. In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese, goat cheese and salt, if needed.

Preheat the oven to 400. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment or plastic wrap to a 12 X 15 inch rectangle. Place on a large cookie sheet and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. If using plastic wrap, peel off one sheet, invert onto cookie sheet then peel off the other sheet. Spread the chopped greens over the pastry dough, leaving a two-inch border. Spread the goat cheese mixture over the greens. Top with the onions and sprinkle the pine nuts over the onions.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yeah, I had a brain fade and put the cheese under the greens but still yummyliscious!

The Hunters: Kevin, Patrick & Geoff with the fruits of their labor...

and ours. Thanks, Mom

One thought on “I Ain’t Broke But I’m Badly Bent

  1. Hey, Loved the post!!!
    and the duck sausage dinner
    good job and you posted with a few hours to spare.

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