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 (Possibly from this cookbook). 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, doves, chucker or just about any game bird.
But the hands-down favorite with the adults in Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, OR was this recipe made with several different birds. 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
2 lb. smoked sausage
1/2 c. strained bacon drippings
1 c. flour
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
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 also pre-make the 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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