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Cast iron and Dutch oven cooking

Recipe: Dutch Oven Duck and Sausage Gumbo

Recipe: Dutch Oven Duck and Sausage Gumbo

For years, when I lived in the state of Mississippi along the big river, I had a deep-seated and glorious addiction to duck hunting. During waterfowl season, my idea of a good morning was to be somewhere in a flooded greentree reservoir, watching the sun come up to  brighten the eastern sky.

If you were lucky, you’d start to hear the whistling of wings…

by Leon Pantenburg

To say you’re going to make gumbo is more a statement of purpose than a firm declaration of  an established recipe. And I’m sure the basis of this recipe started out  somewhere. But over the years, I tweaked and adjusted the ingredients to fit my personal tastes. Since I love gumbo in any form or style (but hold the okra, please) I made it out of whatever meat I had the most of.

Squirrel makes a superb gumbo, and you could substitute it or rabbit  here if need be. This recipe will also work well with goose or chucker.

But the hands-down favorite with the adults in Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, OR was this recipe.  The last time I cooked it was for a group of  11 hungry adults at the end of a cold day outside.  Everyone ate at least seconds, and we still had
enough to feed a couple more people.

Duck and Sausage Gumbo

Duck hunting is challenging, but the rewards of a successful hunt include fine eating!

2 lb. smoked sausage
1/2 c. strained bacon drippings
1 c. flour
6-8 ducks
4 Tbs. salt, divided
1 bay leaf
2 ribs celery
1 onion, quartered
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped celery
2 c. chopped green pepper
1 ½  tsp. pepper
red pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste
cooked rice


Cut sausage into rounds and cook briefly to render grease. Drain. Make a dark roux with bacon drippings and flour. Boil ducks in about 4 quarts of water, seasoned with 1 Tablespoon salt, bay leaf, quartered celery and onion. Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve strained stock.

(To save time in camp, I usually boil and bone out the meat at home and take it to camp in plastic bags. I

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also pre-make my roux, purposefully leaving it underdone. At camp, then, it only takes a few minutes to finish cooking it. I like a roux to be peanutbutter-colored.)

Let chopped vegetables come to room temperature before cooking slowly in the roux. Add three quarts duck stock and cook to thick consistency of gumbo. Add pepper, duck meat and sausage. Simmer three hours. Season to taste with red pepper and Tabasco. Freezes well. Serve over rice.

Dutch Oven tips: I usually use my deep 14′ camp oven when it’s time to feed a lot of people. To boil the ducks, heap charcoal under the deep 14″ oven about two layers thick.  When it’s time to simmer the gumbo, reduce the number of coals on top and bottom of the oven until there are gentle bubbles coming from the bottom to the top.

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Cast iron and Dutch oven cooking

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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