Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hooded Merganser Recipe-Guaranteed Good!

When I was a child, I loved bird hunting, but I just could care less about hunting duck in the cold.  My dad would drag me out, occasionally going to the coast to hunt, and the wind, water spray, and bitter temps just made my life miserable.  As I gained some years, and some insulating pounds, the cold didn’t bother me as much, and I grew to appreciate waterfowl hunting.
Each season I try to follow how the birds do up north, so it’ll give me an idea of how they’ll be when they migrate south to North Carolina.  I work on my calling (I need a lot of work!), and study how others do decoy spreads.  And of course, when the season has begun, I start asking other hunters what is flying and at what times.
The word in the field is the mergansers are hot and heavy.  Hoodies, as they are affectionately called,  are beautiful birds, colored in black and white with a huge crest, and are commonly found flying with wood ducks, mallards, and ringnecks along with other waterfowl.
I included a recipe below that should help if you happen to take one while hunting the swamps or open water.

1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red chili paste
1 (4 to 5 lb) whole merganser
1 teaspoon salt
4 slices of ham
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon corn starch
4 slices cheddar cheese
8 slices bread
choice of vegetables

1- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2- Coat shallow roasting pan and rack with non-stick spray.
3- In a small bowl, combine and mix wine, honey, lemon juice and chili paste.
4- Rinse merganser, and cut down center of back to butterfly.  Pat dry.  Pierce skin several times with metal skewer.  Salt and pepper skin.
5- Place cut vegetables in pan below rack.  Place merganser on rack, skin side up.  Place in oven.
6- After 20 minutes, baste with honey/chili mixture.  Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes.
7- With 5 minutes cooking time remaining, place 4 slices of bread out.  Place ham and cheese on slices of bread.
8- Remove merganser from oven, place on platter and keep warm.
9- Combine orange juice and corn starch.
10- Strain pan juices in sauce pan.  Discard vegetables.
11- Bring to a simmer, adding any left over baste.  Thicken with corn starch mixture and add salt and pepper.
12- Cut merganser into pieces (leg, thigh, wings, breast).
13- Toss merganser and sauce into trash.  Top remaining 4 slices of bread with mustard and place on 4 prepared slices of bread, ham, and cheese.
14- Enjoy your sandwiches!
Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to