Editor’s note: Now that another duck season’s come and gone (practically flew by, huh?), you may be asking: What in the blue blazes are you gonna do with all that duck stashed away in the freezer? Fear not, friends. Today, we’re re-sharing a recipe for Wild Duck Gumbo, which originally ran in our How to Eat Like an Arkansan feature back in April 2015.
Gumbo may be a Louisiana classic, but add a little wild duck meat and it becomes a wholly Arkansas tradition. Stuttgart boasts some of the best duck hunting in the country and, with it, a community ready to celebrate all things waterfowl—including some good eating. Each year, Stuttgart hosts the World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook-Off, pitting recipe against recipe to find the reigning mix. Heather Weaver, head cook for the Cavers Gumbo Team, took home the championship in ’12 and ’14. And while she won’t reveal her secrets, she’s quick to offer a starter recipe and a few tips.
“Basically, less is best,” Weaver says. “You don’t want to throw in a whole bunch of garbage, and keep an eye on your seasonings. Many Cajun mixes already have salt, so don’t add more.”
Wild Duck Gumbo
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
1 1/2 cups bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
1 pound andouille sausage or kielbasa, diced
3 cups boneless, skinless duck-breast filets, each cut into 3 or 4 pieces
3 quarts chicken broth, or stock made from the duck breasts
1 tablespoon filé powder
1 tablespoon gumbo seasoning
1 tablespoon salt and pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, or crawfish tails
1 teaspoon ground thyme
6-8 cups warm cooked white rice
1 bag of frozen okra (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced (optional)
In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, combine the peanut oil and flour to make the roux. Cook, while stirring constantly, until the roux is thoroughly cooked (about 45 minutes until dark brown, but not burnt). Be careful not to burn the roux. Remove from heat, and stir in onions and peppers.
In a large, heavy stockpot, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned. Add the duck, and cook until browned. Add the chicken or duck broth, filé powder, gumbo seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Stir into the roux mixture thoroughly, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the duck is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Once the duck is tender, stir in the shrimp or crawfish tails, thyme and parsley. If you use shrimp, cook until it is pink (about 4 to 6 minutes). Spoon the rice into bowls, and ladle the gumbo over it. Makes 8-10 servings.