What's the best tasting duck, and how to prepare it?
Like the old cajun says, "The best tasting duck is one in the pot." Being in the duck cleaning business, it hurts us to hear that some hunters don't keep their ducks and actually throw them away. We believe that's the minority and firmly believe you should either eat, or donate what you harvest.
Now lets get to the good stuff. What duck tastes the best and what's the best way to cook it? Different duck species definitely have different flavors, and the way they're prepared plays a big part in how they taste. We've been cooking ducks for over 30 years and will offer up what we have found. Beginning with the puddle ducks, Teal, Wood Duck, and Pintail are our favorite. They have a mild flavor that will make most duck-haters change their minds. I would categorize Widgeon, Mallards, and Mottled ducks in the next category. To us, their flavor isn't too much of the so-called fishy flavor, but it just lacks the flavor of the first three. Gray ducks/Gadwall would follow since their flavor can sometimes be a little on the strong side followed by the infamous Spoonbills/Northern Shoveler whose meat can be downright salmon colored.
The great equalizer is the brine bath. We have experienced with brine baths and it has usually removed much of the undesirable flavor while also adding juiciness. Brine recipes are all on the internet, but we generally fill up the sink with water, throw in ice, ducks, and a lot of salt. We let them sit for quite a few hours, adding ice as needed. From gravies to gumbos, and smoked duck to bacon wrapped, they're hard to beat.
Mexican Squeelers and Black-Bellied Tree Ducks are tasty as well, they're just a little tougher to clean which loses points for them and I wouldn't exactly classify them as a puddle or a diving duck. Slow cook them in a gravy.
Regarding diving ducks, the only ones we've eaten are Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ringnecks, and Scaup, and honestly, if they're prepared correctly, they're delicious. Again, we would brine them and either fry, or wrap in bacon and throw on the pit.
PLEASE keep the skin on for all of these recipes.
Saveur- Christina Holmes, Allrecipes, Wildfowlmag, Prejean's