Since the creation of my first cookbook, people have been very interested in discussing how to cook wild duck. These duck meatballs are one great answer.
I have been told time after time, “I can’t make duck taste good for anything!” This comment always amazes me. Duck is one of the most highly sought after meats by chefs across the country. If prepared correctly, this deep red meat is succulent, tender, and extremely tasty.
Our ancestors loved cooking these prized birds. They developed wonderfully deep flavors from mallards, pintails, wood ducks, teal, and ringbills and I have enjoyed experimenting with their ancient recipes using some modern twists. Harvesting or buying duck is well worth the investment of time and money.
In this recipe, one of the keys to great flavor is the addition of pancetta, also known as pork belly. Although it’s a different meat from bacon, pancetta comes from the same cut of pork that bacon comes from.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for sautéing
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 1 pear peeled and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds duck meat cubed
- ½ pound pancetta
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup parsley
- Heat olive oil in a 10 to 12 inch sauté pan. Add onions, pears, ginger, and garlic until completely caramelized and liquid has evaporated. Chill for about an hour.
- In a medium bowl, combine duck and pancetta along with the remaining ingredients. Chill for an hour.
- Mix all ingredients together. Feed ingredients through a meat grinder with the medium dye attachment.
- Form 2 ounces ball from the meat mixture.
- Heat 1-teaspoon olive oil in cast iron skillet until hot, but not smoking. Brown meatballs in batches. Cook until done all the way through, about 7 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine. Season to taste and pour over meatballs.
- Sprinkle parsley over the top of meatballs. Serve with wild rice, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, pasta, or orzo. Honey or your favorite barbeque sauce complements it nicely.