Gourmet Food Source
Teal, mallard and widgeon are the most common wild ducks to be found for sale in the UK. Found along the coast or in marshland they feed on plants growing below the water, which gives the flesh a strong, oily texture and taste.
The mallard is the most common wild duck, often seen on lakes and ponds they are larger than teal and widgeon and can comfortably feed two people with an average weight of two and a half pounds (1.1kg). Widgeon is the next biggest and are less common, they have a subtle flavour and require careful coking. The teal is a one-portion bird weighing under a pound (400g approximately), they are best cooked rare, as they are prone to drying out and becoming tough the longer they are cooked.
Mid to late autumn is the best time for wild duck, the brighter the bill the younger the duck and the younger the better for the pot. If bought freshly shot avoid hanging for more than a day as the flesh spoils rapidly so be sure to know when they were shot. Although water fowl have a layer of fat under the skin they still require extra fat and regular basting with its cooking juices, keep older birds for braising with wine and strong herbs.
I like to cook teal with seasonal berries and other strong flavours such as cinnamon, star anise and orange, infuse the spices with a light brown chicken stock and cook until reduced. Teal is not recommended for anyone with a healthy appetite, unless you eat two or three of them!
Content and picture © Miles Collins