Grilling duck and goose isn’t complicated, but it does require equal parts science and art. There are two key components to creating consistently good grilled waterfowl before the duck or goose meat touches the grill grate: aging and preparation.
Smart meat aging goes a long way toward turning duck and goose into a delicacy, and there’s nothing frightening about aging ducks and geese within a reasonable temperature range and time frame. I prefer to let freshly harvested birds sit belly-up on a cold concrete garage floor, but hanging is also a good option. I’ll let birds age whole for two or three days at 40°F, and possibly a day or two longer below that. Because frozen meat does not age properly, ducks and geese taken in arctic conditions should be cleaned as soon as possible and placed in the refrigerator to age for up to a week before being consumed or frozen. The same should be done with birds that are hard-hit through the body, taking care to eliminate as much of the shot-up portions as possible.
Done right, grilled waterfowl is one of the tastiest entrées there is.
I prefer using wood-pellet heat for grilling ducks and geese due to its flavor-enhancing smoke and consistent grilling performance. When set to between 350°F and 425°F, a wood-pellet grill’s consistent cooking time widens the window for achieving rare to medium-rare meat color and firmness. That’s what we’re looking for in duck and goose steaks. Turn the steaks or kebabs once between 15 and 20 minutes after they hit the grill, checking for firmness with tongs to determine how far along they are. (Pinch together your thumb and forefinger and feel the heel of your hand. This is what a medium-rare steak feels like.) This check will help you decide how much longer they need to cook to achieve rare perfection. Learning to judge the doneness of steaks or kebabs by their firmness takes experience, but quickly becomes second nature. Also, keep in mind the meat will continue to cook internally for a few minutes when removed from the grill, so it’s best to pull the steaks off and let them rest just as they hit medium-rare. Duck and goose legs generally need to grill until the skin starts working its way up the leg bone.
Transforming ducks and geese into culinary delights should be equal parts art, science and (most importantly) a fun experience. It’s time to realize the mouthwatering potential of tender, flavorful duck and goose out of a smoke-filled grill.
– Sean S., Cabela’s Outfitter