Game for shooting dinner?

SUPPORT: Award-wining chef Al Brown is right behind the event.
SUPPORT: Award-wining chef Al Brown is right behind the event.

Duck season is underway and now there is a way to get the most out of your feathered fare.

The 2012 Gamebird Food Festival, running until July 8, aims to encourage more people to enjoy game birds as a healthy and ethical food source.

Hunters can take their bounty into participating restaurants to be prepared by top chefs. Local eateries Kermadec, Bracu Restaurant and Cazador Restaurant are taking part in this year's festival.  

Hunters will need to pluck and dress the game birds - which can include the mallard duck, paradise duck, pheasant and quail - and drop it into the restaurants at least 24 hours before they want to dine.

Award-wining chef, TV presenter and the man behind Depot - Metro's restaurant of the year - Al Brown is right behind the event.

"To me, the most satisfying meals involve food that you've harvested yourself. Nothing beats going out hunting or fishing and sharing a meal of your catch with your mates at the end of the day, and the Gamebird Food Festival provides a great opportunity to do just that."

Home cooks can also pick up some tips on how to prepare game birds at home through a series of soon-to-be-announced demonstrations around the country.

All the festival details are available on the Gamebird Food Festival website.

2012 Gamebird Food Festival participating Auckland restaurants:

Kermadec - Viaduct Harbour. Phone 09 304 0454
Cazador Restaurant - 854 Dominion Road. Phone 09 620 8730
Bracu Restaurant - 49 Main Road, Bombay. Phone 09 236 1020

RECIPE: Al Brown's twice cooked roast duck with Brussels sprouts, pine nut puree and pinot noir cherries

Serves 8

Step 1: Roasted duck

3 x Celery Sticks
2 x Onions (Med)
3 x Carrots (Med)
3 x Wild Ducks (plucked & dressed)
3 x Sprigs Rosemary
3-4 Sprigs Thyme
4 x Bay Leaves
1 ½ Cups Port
2 Cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.

For the celery, onions and carrots, rough chop them all into largish pieces and place in a roasting pan. Top the vegetables with the 3 ducks, then scatter over the fresh herbs. Pour in the port and chicken stock, and then season the birds with salt and pepper. Cover with foil tightly and place in the pre heated oven. After 1 ½ hours remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes until the skin is golden.

Take the roasted ducks out and let them rest until cool to handle. Strain off the cooking juices from the roasting pan (keep) and discard the vegetables and herbs. Remove the duck meat from the carcasses and rough chop into bite size pieces. Refrigerate until the next cooking step and discard the bones.

Step 2: Wild duck ragout

150gms Bacon 1 x Onion (medium dice)
2 x Celery Sticks (medium dice)
2 x Carrots (medium dice)
2 x Garlic Cloves (rough chopped)
2 Tbls Fresh Sage (finely chopped)
2 Tbls Fresh Thyme (finely chopped)
3 x Bay Leaves
500gms Mushrooms, field or portabella (rough chopped)
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Cup Port - Cooking juices (from roasted ducks)
3 Cup Chicken Stock, 2 Cup Beef stock
Picked Duck Meat (from the three roasted birds)
30gms Butter 30gms AP Flour

Place a large saucepan on medium to high heat. Pour in a little cooking oil then add the bacon. Cook for a few minutes until golden; now add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and fresh herbs. Turn the heat down and sweat the vegetables for 20 minutes before adding the mushrooms, red wine and port. Reduce the liquid by half then add the cooking juices, chicken & beef stock and the picked duck meat. Turn down to a low simmer and cook for another hour stirring occasionally. The duck meat should be really tender and falling apart. Strain off the cooking stock into a jug.

For the roux to thicken the ragout, take a saucepan and place on medium heat. Add the butter and with a whisk add the flour once the butter has melted. Now whisking continuously slowly pour in all the cooking stock to produce a silky flavourful gravy. Pour this back over the duck and vegetables, stir together. Remove from the heat, cool to room temp and then refrigerate until required (will freeze equally well).

Step 3: Brussels sprout, pine nut puree

150gms Butter (rough chopped)
1kg Brussels sprouts (sliced finely as possible)
½ Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Cream
200g Spinach Leaves (sliced finely as possible)
Pinch Sugar
Salt and Pepper to season.

Take a large bottomed saucepan and place on high heat. Add the butter and when it begins to foam add the sliced Brussels sprouts. Stir continuously for at least 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. Now add the chicken stock and place a lid on the saucepan, to steam for 3 minutes or so. Next add the cream and spinach and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the sprouts are soft. Place it all in a liquidizer and puree until smooth. (If it's sticking add a little more liquid...chicken stock, cream or H20). Cool down rapidly to retain the bright green colour and refrigerate until required.

Step 4: Serving

For the ragout, place in a saucepan and stirring occasionally slowly bring up to heat. Take the Brussels sprout puree and reheat in the microwave until hot. Fold in the pine nuts.

To serve, take 8 warm bowl plates or similar and divide up the puree between them. Top with the twice cooked wild duck ragout and randomly add 3 or 4 pinot noir cherries to each plate to add a little sweetness.

Serve pronto with good crusty bread which can be dipped in the gravy!

Auckland Now