Take a pass on the traditional holiday turkey and roast a duck this year, using this recipe—a tasty tribute to the wintering wild ducks on the High Plains of New Mexico and Texas, which feast on peanuts and waste grains such as corn and wheat. You’ll be baking the dressing simultaneously with roasting the duck, so position one oven rack in the middle for the duck, and the other one on the lower rack.
For the peanut dressing:
1/2 recipe skillet cornbread, crumbled
6 buttermilk biscuits, crumbled
2 cups sourdough bread cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 to 1 cup duck stock (simmer the duck giblets in 2 cups water for 30 minutes and let cool)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
For the bourbon/sorghum glaze:
3/4 cup sorghum syrup (can substitute agave nectar or maple syrup)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the duck:
1 5-lb. domestic duck (in the frozen meats section of better grocery stores)
1 small onion, quartered
2-3 stalks celery, cut in thirds
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Sage leaves, for garnish
Before beginning, thaw the duck in the refrigerator for 3 days; remove giblets to make stock, pat the duck dry with paper towels, and let dry completely on a roasting rack.
Prepare the peanut dressing: Preheat oven to 350° F and butter a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Combine the crumbled cornbread and biscuits with the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Combine the onion and celery with the butter and sauté until translucent; remove from heat and stir in sage, thyme, pepper, and salt. Pour this mixture over the cornbread, biscuit, and bread cubes; toss gently. Stir in the beaten eggs and add enough stock that the mixture just barely holds together when pressed into a ball. Transfer to the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top.
Prepare the glaze: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
Prepare the duck: Preheat oven to 450° F. Position duck breast-side up on the roasting rack and score through the skin and fat (but not into the meat) with a sharp knife. Combine the salt, pepper, and paprika and rub into the duck, inside and out. Place the onion and celery in the cavity and truss the legs with kitchen twine.
Roast the duck for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° F. Add the baking dish of dressing to the lower rack, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dressing is golden brown. Remove both the dressing and the duck from the oven and let the dressing rest on the stovetop. Brush the duck with the glaze and return it to the oven. Bring the temperature back up to 450° F, and brush the duck with the glaze every 10 minutes until a meat thermometer in the deepest part of the thigh registers 155° F.
Cook’s Tip: For a quick gravy, you can combine the pan juices with the remainder of the duck stock and enough chicken stock to make 2 cups of liquid. Simmer over low heat, thicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/2 cup white wine, and season to taste.
To serve, spoon the dressing onto an oval serving platter, place the duck atop it, and garnish with fresh sage leaves.
Discover more than 175 other organic wild game, seafood, foraged foods, and garden fare recipes in The Field to Table Cookbook by Susan L. Ebert (Welcome Books, 2016), available in the COWGIRL store at shopcowgirl.com.