It’s finally fall again. And my husband, Dave, is happy because fall ushers in hunting season.
I could write a lot about lessons learned while being married to a conscientious, deeply ethical, nature- and animal-loving hunter (in fact, he’s the first hunter I ever met, way back in college). But I’ll save that for another post. Suffice it to say that over the past three decades, I’ve had to learn how to cook a lot of wild game meat — mostly dove, duck, goose, and pheasant.
This Wild Duck Pate recipe is without a doubt our favorite game-meat creation to date. It’s a labor-intensive recipe, but trust me, it’s worth the effort. People go absolutely nuts for this when we serve it at parties. One guy recently asked me if I knew its street value.
Unfortunately, this recipe does not work with domestic, store-bought duck, which is much fattier and milder than wild duck … so you’ll have to make friends with a duck hunter.
Bosley’s Wild Duck Pate
3/4 pound (24 tablespoons, or 3 sticks) butter, divided (to make a slightly lighter pate, you can substitute olive oil for up to half of the butter)
1 pound skinned and boned wild duck breast (about 2 mallards), cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 red apple, cored and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
8 ounces hot Italian sausage (we use Boulder Sausage)
1 cup walnuts (or almonds)
2 tablespoons sherry or cognac
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons butter and sauté duck pieces, mushrooms, and spices until tender and cooked through. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In the same pan, heat 4 tablespoons butter and sauté apple, onion, and sausage until sausage is cooked through and apple and onion are tender. Add to duck mixture along with walnuts, sherry, lemon juice, and 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter. Mix well.
- Working in batches, puree mixture in a food processor, transferring batches to a second large bowl as you go, until all is finely blended and mixed. This is important: If you hear a rough, grinding sound when you turn on your processor, stop immediately; that means there’s a shot somewhere in the mixture. You’ll have to feel your way through the entire mixture to find the tiny shot and remove. Repeat this as long as that awful noise alerts you that shot still remains.
- Once everything is nicely blended and smooth, divide mixture into freezer-safe containers with lids. (For this recipe, we use three 2-cup glass containers.) Melt remaining 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cool slightly, and pour over pâté. Cover and freeze. Defrost and bring to room temperature before serving.