Wild Mallard is the largest and best-known of all the wild duck and also the most popular for cooking. It has a stronger flavour than domesticated ducks and much leaner flesh.
Buying Wild Mallard is the best way to ensure the bird has actually spent a considerable time in its natural environment, which creates a strong tasting lean meat.
How to store wild mallard?
Keep in the fridge in the original wrapping, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat foods.
If you want to freeze the bird, freeze on the day of purchase for up to 1 month. To defrost, remove from the original packaging and place on a plate or tray and cover. Defrost thoroughly in the bottom of the fridge, and take it out of the freezer a day or two before cooking.
Cooking Wild Mallard
The best way to cook a wild mallard is to roast it. The different parts of the bird will sometimes require different cooking techniques for the best results. The breast is wonderful roasted, grilled or sautéed, while legs are delicious if you braise or confit them and are also a great addition to stews and casseroles.
One bird generally serves 2 or 3 people..
Serve with game chips (thinly sliced deep-fried potatoes) or roast potatoes and a tangy fruit sauce such as cherry or orange (and local cherries are in season as we write this).
Wild Mallard can also be paired with sharp, fruity flavour like apples, blueberries and raspberries which can be found around the bird’s natural habitat. You can enjoy experimenting with different seasonal accompaniments.
Two ingredients, perhaps three, are usually enough to accompany wild mallard to bring out the delicious, rich flavour.
Roast Wild Mallard with apples, rosemary and bacon.
- 3 mallards
- 1 lemon
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 12 slices pancetta or similar streaky bacon, thinly cut
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 3 Bramley or similar cooking apples
- 2 shallots
- 1 dsp sugar
- 50 ml. sherry vinegar
- 100 ml. dry sherry
- 100 ml. chicken stock
- Make sure the interiors of the mallards are clean and dry. Season each of them with salt, pepper, a slice of lemon, two cloves of garlic lightly crushed and a bay leaf. Smear half the butter over the breasts of duck and bind a sprig of rosemary on each breast. Cover with two slices of pancetta and fix with two loops of string over the breast at each end. Place the ducks breast side up on a rack in an oven tray and roast in a hot oven (220C) for 18 minutes.
- Halve and core the apples. Place a pinch of sugar and a knob of butter in each one and place in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Once the mallards are cooked, take them from their tray and remove the legs with a sharp knife. Leave the remainder to rest on the rack, breast side down. Place the legs back in the roasting tray and back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Pick through the spinach leaves, separating and discarding the stalks. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy casserole. Add the spinach and cook on a high flame until the spinach is wilted but still a brilliant green. Season with a little extra salt and some milled black pepper and drain. Keep warm.
- Peel and slice the shallots. Remove the duck legs from the pan and add the shallots and a knob of butter. Once they have coloured, sprinkle the shallots with the sugar. Stew this with a sprig of rosemary on top of the stove until the juices start to caramelise. Stir well and then pour in the sherry vinegar. Scrape up all and reduce to a syrupy glaze. Add the sherry (or white wine) and bring to a boil before adding the stock.
- Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the juices that have escaped from the resting mallards. Check the seasoning, whisk in a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice and strain the sauce into a sauceboat.
- Untie the duck and take the pink breasts off the bone together with their bacon. Place the spinach and a half apple on each plate. Arrange the sliced breasts on the spinach and the leg in the apples and pour the sauce around.