Cooking wild duck in the South always seems to come back to the usual: bacon, cream cheese and jalapeños. You know, duck poppers.
Don’t misunderstand, they are quick, easy and delicious, perfect for grilling out while watching a ballgame, but we all get tired of the usual well before we exhaust our stockpile of meat.
Sure, gumbo is always a great option if you have the time and a trusty family recipe to lean on, but if you are short on time or want to mix it up, try turning that duck into street-style tacos.
This recipe is super simple and a family favorite. Last duck season we found ourselves wanting to hunt but short on freezer space, so we figured it was only right to clear out some room so we could justify spending the weekend knocking mallards down.
After a trip whose highlights included some carne asada street tacos served out of a beat-up food truck, it became an ambition to recreate the dish. That weekend duck tacos were born.
Street-Style Duck Tacos
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes
- Duck breast, skin-on mallard breast preferred but any well-processed duck will do.
(Tip: one mallard breast will yield three tacos, one gadwall breast will yield two and teal breast will yield one.)
- Small corn or flour tortillas, homemade or store bought
- Chili powder
- Large white onion
- Two cloves garlic
- Cotija cheese (Mexican crumbling cheese)
- Hot sauce
- Butter, vegetable oil or lard duck fat (if you have it)
- Before I cook the protein I like to go ahead and prep everything else so when the meat is done we can dig in. Dice the onion, mince the cloves of garlic, chop a bundle of cilantro, slice limes, warm the tortillas — the works.
- Let the the duck breasts get to room temperature then pat them dry with a paper towel. Scoring the skin (or meat if you didn’t leave the skin on) allows the seasonings to set better and the skin to crisp a little more.
- Season your duck meat with kosher salt, pepper, cumin and a little chili powder. I don’t use measurements here because everyone prefers different amounts of seasoning so trust yourself, we can always add later.
- Once the meat is seasoned, sear it skin down in a skillet over medium high heat until the skin is crispy, flip and sear on the other side until you get some color (do this in batches, don’t crowd the skillet). Pull meat from the skillet. It should be medium rare and let to rest for five minutes. Slice meat into ¼-inch cubes. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Brown your minced garlic and a small handful of onion in whatever fat you prefer (we use duck fat rendered from our puddle ducks; lard or butter works excellently too) and then add your cubed meat back into the skillet and let the edges crisp up, stirring occasionally to get all sides. Once again do this in batches so as to not crowd the pan. We want to sear the meat, not steam it. It goes quick so don’t take shortcuts.
- What you are left with should be little chunks of duck that are crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. Put it on your preferred tortilla, add some diced onion, cilantro, cotija, a squeeze of lime and a splash of hot sauce if you’re feeling it.