March 2018
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

A New Twist on an Old Favorite

Pulled duck meat was a big hit when added to our traditional cornbread dressing recipe.

 

Duck Dressing

Whether you make it from scratch or from a mix or buy it in a local restaurant, cornbread is a staple of the Southern table. It’s cheap, easy to make and there are so many ways to use it. From cornbread crumbled into buttermilk with onions to my grandmother’s cornbread dressing recipe, it is an indispensable part of our family’s palate.

I started making my grandmother’s dressing recipe a few years ago and have tweaked it some to make it more like hers. Except for adding a whole duck breast to the dressing before putting it into the oven, I haven’t changed it in a big way. One Saturday this winter, Jason wanted to try something different. He had three ducks in the slow cooker for me to make duck dressing. This time, instead of putting the entire bird into the dish, he pulled the meat and then mixed it in the dressing.

I will admit that duck is not my favorite game meat but, mixed in Grandma Rhodes’ dressing, I could have eaten a pound of it in one sitting. I never would have thought of tearing the duck meat like roast beef and adding it to the cooked dressing if Jason had not suggested it. Sometimes you never know what pairings will come perfectly together.

Everyone knows cornbread and greens go together, almost like peanut butter and jelly, but one of Jason’s coworkers, Thomas Welch, shared his wife Maxine’s recipe for cornbread dumplings. Somehow, I have never heard of these before. I did a quick internet search and was amazed to find so many recipes. Once I saw all the photos of plump cornbread dumplings sitting on top of greens, I knew I had to make some.

Maxine says it took a while to get her recipe just right, but it was worth it because Thomas loves them. What makes them so good is that she adds some turnip broth to the dumpling mixture before rolling the dumplings.

To make cornbread dumplings, cook the turnip greens as you normally would. Once they are tender, remove the greens from the pot and set aside. Leave a little bit of the greens in the pot to simmer with the dumplings. Make sure to leave enough room in the pot for all of the dumplings to cook. Reserve about 1 cup of turnip broth for the dumplings.

 

DUCK DRESSING (REVISITED)

Ducks
3 ducks, dressed
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place ducks in a large slow cooker. Add water, salt and pepper. Cook all day (6-8 hours) on low.
Cornbread
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add buttermilk and mayonnaise. Mix well. Add to dry mixture. Mix well. Bake at 450° for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Crumble it finely.

Dressing
4 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cups duck broth, plus more for adding during cooking as needed
½ Tablespoon salt
¼ Tablespoon pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Into a 9x13 casserole dish, pour 2 tablespoons butter. Coat bottom.

In a large mixing bowl, combine liquid ingredients including remaining butter. Add salt and pepper. Blend. Add crumbled cornbread. Mix well. Add onions. Make sure all ingredients are mixed. Pour into buttered pan. Cook at 450° for about 45 minutes. Add additional broth as it cooks, if needed.

Remove meat from ducks. Pull or chop into smaller pieces. Add to dressing and stir.

Note: This is my family’s traditional cornbread dressing recipe with two small changes: duck broth is substituted for chicken broth and duck meat is mixed directly into the dressing.

 

MAXINE WELCH’S TURNIP GREEN CORNBREAD DUMPLINGS

1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dab of flour (my dab is about 3 teaspoons)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 cup turnip green broth, divided

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except turnip broth. In a pot, heat broth. Pour just enough into mixture to bind it, but not be soupy. Form mixture into balls or disk shapes.

After making dumplings, bring remaining broth to a boil. Add dumplings. Allow to simmer on low heat until dumplings are puffy, cooked through and not doughy, about 20 minutes. Do not stir with a spoon, just shake pot a little to move dumplings around.

Note: If you don’t have turnip greens from the winter season, you might try looking for some wild poke sallet in the spring. Not only is it good with cornbread but you can also make poke sallet cornbread. Just don’t forget to brush up on safe harvesting before you begin searching for your next meal from the wild side.

 

WILD POKE SALLET CORNBREAD

½ cup cooked poke sallet
1 (6-ounce) package Mexican cornbread mix
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup margarine, melted
¾ cup cottage cheese
1 cup chopped onion
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Drain poke sallet well, pressing between paper towel layers. Chop. In a bowl, place poke sallet. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until blended. Pour into a lightly greased, 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

ROASTED DUCK

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 (5-pound) whole duck
½ cup melted butter, divided

Heat oven to 375°. In a bowl, combine salt, pepper and paprika. Rub onto duck. Place in the roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour. Spoon ¼ cup of butter over duck. Continue cooking for 45 minutes. Spoon remaining butter over duck. Cook 15 more minutes or until golden brown.

 

SAVORY DUCK

5 cups skinless duck breast fillets, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
Salt and black pepper, to taste, divided
¼ cup flour
6 slices bacon, diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2½-3 cups water (or red wine)
3 cups beef stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
3½ Tablespoons butter
1 pound quartered mushrooms
2 cups small red potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
Cooked rice

Heat oven to 325°. Season duck well with salt and pepper. Toss it with flour to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour.

In a large, oven-safe pot over medium heat, cook bacon until lightly browned. Add olive oil. Heat 2-3 minutes. Toss in duck pieces. Cook, stirring often until evenly browned. Add onion. Cook 3-4 minutes more. Add garlic, water (or wine) and beef stock. Bring to boil. Cover with lid or foil. Bake 3-4 hours or until meat can be broken apart with a fork.

Add remaining ingredients. Liquid should just cover the pot’s contents. Add more beef broth if needed. Bake another hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

Note: You can also add hearts, livers and gizzards.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.