I had never tried mallard before but I love duck so I was looking forward to this, I have to say. I took them out of the freezer and allowed them to defrost overnight. On preparing them I found that they smelt pretty – er – ripe, which was a wee bit concerning, but I continued. The instructions are very straight forward if you want to tackle roast mallard: inside the bird, put in some butter, seasoning and herbs; outside, season with salt and pepper. You don’t need any butter or back fat to protect the birds as they have a layer of fat anyway. According to Jane, they should be roasted rare, so they only require 30 minutes at 200⁰C. When ready, allow to rest for fifteen minutes, carve and serve. I did game chips (see the entry on roast pheasant) and Savoy cabbage along with an orange sauce as suggested by the lady herself. You could make a gravy from the juices and a spoonful of bitter marmalade or an orange salad.
The fowl stench of death
#215 Mallard. These birds were definitely over-hung. They smelt and tasted of death and had gone well past the gamey stage. As I have frame of reference, I’m not sure if they naturally taste like that anyway. I doubt it though. Char and Clive seemed to find this okay, but it was rather too much for me and I couldn’t face a leg. That said, the hanging made the meat very tender and succulent. The next day the kitchen smelt like dead and rotting animals. 3.5/10.
FYI: the hanging of meat – in particular game – is required for the meat to become tender and tasty. Whether it is 28 days for beef, or just 2 to 3 days for small game. Pheasant, for example, is tough and pretty tasteless before hanging. However, people cross the line between well-hung and rotten. Brillat-Savarin – the Eighteenth century gastronome and lawyer – didn’t consider pheasant to be fit for consumption until it was “in a state of complete purification”, according to Larousse Gastronomique.