New book gives insights into how to cook ducks, geese

Author, hunter and cook Hank Shaw recently published his latest book, this one a marsh-to-table account of how to harvest, prepare and serve ducks and geese, whether they’re wild or domestic.

Late-season waterfowl hunters have a conundrum: They still have three weeks left in the current waterfowl season and, depending on the weather, these final few weeks may prove the hardest and at the same time the best hunting of the season.

The Pacific Flyway duck and goose season ends Jan. 26, which means a few more days of getting up early and huddling in a blind, all the time remembering that this late in the season the freezer may be getting a bit full.

Forget the dried-out turkey of unknown provenance or the overcooked prime rib you faced down at Christmas.

Start the New Year with a hint and help from Hank Shaw, the much-celebrated food writer, forager, hunter and cook, who in his new book, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” says, “A whole roasted goose, skin golden brown and crispy, is a holiday icon.”

This latest book — Shaw also wrote the well-received “Hunt, Gather, Cook” (Rodale Inc., 2011) — is a compendium of how to prepare that icon from wild or domestic waterfowl, although it’s clear Shaw greatly prefers the wild over the domestic.

It’s not just that wild birds taste better, which they do, but it’s conjoined with Shaw’s love for what he calls “honest food.”

On his website Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook at, Shaw writes, “Honest food is what I’m seeking. Nothing packaged, nothing in a box, nothing wrapped in plastic. I eat meat, and I’m not keen on factory farms, so I either hunt it myself or buy it from real people who raise animals humanely.”

Shaw takes you through the entire marsh-to-table process, from identifying and harvesting a wild bird to cleaning, preparing and serving them.

He even adds some ideas about which wines — his all-time favorite is a French Chateauneuf du Pape — and beers — Belgian seems to be the preferred choice among duck lovers — you might serve.

Every step of this entertaining and informative guide is illustrated by the photography of Holly Heyser, Shaw’s life and hunting partner.

“Duck, Duck, Goose — Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, Both Wild and Domesticated” (10 Speed Press, 2013, 240 pages, $24.99) is available in hardcover or e-reader, online and at bookstores nationwide.


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