Friday, December 16, 2011

Video: How to skin a duck

Yes, I know it's a coot, not a duck.
I know - blasphemy, right? I mean, I love duck skin, and my favorite way to eat duck is roasted whole with skin on.

But sometimes you get a bird that you know is going to taste "off." You know your mallards and pintails are going to taste great, but spoonies, gadwalls and wigeon can be a bit funky, depending on where you live and what those birds are eating there. Coots and sea birds? Stinkers, consistently.

The good news that all the foul flavor lives in skin and fat, so you can still make use of much of that stanky bird. All you need to know is how to skin it.

I shot this video on how to skin a duck a couple weekends ago after Hank and I went hunting for diver ducks on San Francisco Bay (San Pablo Bay, to be more exact). Then last weekend I went hunting at my usual Sacramento Valley spot without Hank and he sent me off with a grocery list: He wanted five coots if I got the opportunity to get some. He said something about recipe development.

I got him his coots (you can read that story here), and rather than make him do the dirty work, I decided to give skinning a try myself, based on the instructional video. I'll be damned if it didn't work - and it worked well! Cleaning went really fast. (It helped to have a quality pair of kitchen shears.) I may shoot coots more often.

Two notes on the video: If you choose to save the first section of wing, as shown near the beginning of the video, to get that meat, all you do is keep pulling off the skin, rather than stopping at the breast and clipping it off. You'll see what I mean. And if you don't want the wing, just clip it off at its base.

And if you like liver, go ahead and use the liver from a coot. The diver/sea duck warnings don't apply.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

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