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Authentic Duck Chili Recipe

A must-try duck dish for any hardy waterfowler.

Authentic Duck Chili Recipe

So real chili these days is sometimes called “Texas Chili,” where it likely originated, or a “Bowl of Red.” As you read on, you’ll see why I call this one a “Bowl of Irish Red.” (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

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“No prison food” were my sole instructions for this recipe. All killer, no filler, as some might say. The truth of the matter: authentic chili does NOT contain beans or tomatoes. Such ingredients were added along the dish’s evolution to stretch this spicy stew (hence the term “prison food”). What is chili—the real deal—at is core? Meat and chiles. Maybe an onion.

Chillin’ Out

So real chili these days is sometimes called “Texas Chili,” where it likely originated, or a “Bowl of Red.” As you read on, you’ll see why I call this one a “Bowl of Irish Red.”

So while you will find many recipes for “authentic chili” on the internet, you will likely notice these recipes call for taking dried chiles and rehydrating then blending whole. Don’t do that. Yes, I’ve done that and it’s guaranteed to leave that unpleasant texture of chile skin in the paste. For the same reason we roast then sweat peppers and peel skin, you want to rehydrate your dried chiles then make a paste (not blend).

Duck Butter

Lastly, a note on duck butter: This may likely be the only time I suggest removing skin from your waterfowl. Low and slow cooking methods like the one used here turns skin gelatin, thus ruining that texture, but more importantly we want to use any skin—either from breasts or legs or even duck butts—to make duck butter.

Duck butter is incredibly, incredibly easy to make. Holly Heyser has a YouTube video on it but the process is simple: Take duck skin, cut into bits, put in a skillet and cover with water—just enough water to cover skin. Crank up heat on burner and once boiling, turn to a low simmer. After about 15 minutes, contents will turn milky white. After about 45 minutes, the liquids will be clear and be sizzling like bacon grease. The skin will start to crisp (a great snack for kids after they’re cooled). Put a paper towel in your steel China cap strainer and put strainer above a glass bowl or cup. Add skillet contents to paper towel and watch liquid gold strain into container. Use this to cook in place of cooking oil. With any leftover duck butter, cool and cover and place in fridge. It’ll keep for several weeks.

How to Make Authentic Duck Chili

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 40 minutes 
Cook time: 4 hours



  • 2-1/2 pounds diced duck (breasts and/or legs)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced and caramelized
  • 1/2 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/2 cup minimum Irish red ale
  • 1/2 cup minimum beef stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons morello cherry preserves
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic

Chili Paste:

    1 cup chili paste made from the following:
  • 8 ounces dried guajillo chiles
  • 8 ounces dried morita chiles
  • 8 ounces dried chipotle peppers
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch slurry
  • Duck butter instead of oil!
  • Suggested garnish: Sour cream and finely diced chives, fresh French bread for dipping
authentic duck chili recipe
For the same reason we roast then sweat peppers and peel skin, you want to rehydrate your dried chiles then make a paste (not blend). (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

Chili Paste Directions:

  1. Add all dried peppers to large pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a low boil for 15 minutes to rehydrate peppers.
  3. Once rehydrated, strain (don’t want a lot of water in paste).
  4. Once strained, scoop a large portion and put into steel China cap strainer.
  5. Use a durable steel spoon to mash peppers so pulp comes through sieve. Have a bowl below to catch paste. Get as much as you can with each scoop of rehydrated peppers then discard, add next scoop until you’ve mashed all peppers through sieve.
  6. Use a plastic scraper/rubber spatula to scrape off pulp from outer edges of sieve into bowl. You should get a cup from all of this effort—perhaps a little more, perhaps a little less. Either works.

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, add a thin layer of duck butter followed by diced onion. During this process pull diced duck from fridge and lightly salt and pepper all side and leave out at room temp.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper diced onion in skillet.
  3. Sear on medium-high then turn to medium-low and allow onion to caramelize (30-45 minutes).
  4. Once caramelized, add 1/2 tablespoon salted butter to deglaze.
  5. Also add 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Scrape onion and minced garlic from skillet and set aside.
  7. In same skillet, add a handful of diced duck (one handful at a time), careful not to crowd pan.
  8. Add a little duck butter to maintain thin layer in skillet.
  9. Sear all sides.
  10. When seared, remove and set aside.
  11. Sear all diced duck and once all seared, add all back to skillet along 1 cup chili paste, 1/2 cup Irish ale, and 1/2 cup beef stock.
  12. Stir together thoroughly to coat all meat and leave at a low simmer on low heat for 1 hour, stirring often.
  13. After 1 hour, add 2 tablespoons morello cherry preserves, 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and coriander, along with onion and garlic mix.
  14. Low simmer for another 2 hours, stirring often. If it looks like it’s starting to dry out, add a bit of beer and beef stock, no more than a 1/4 cup at a time to keep moist.
  15. After 3 hours simmering low, make a corn start slurry by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons corn starch to a small bowl with several droplets of water to turn to a paste.
  16. Add that white paste to chili and stir in to thicken slightly.
  17. Lastly, salt to taste, meaning if it’s a little bland, add a little salt at a time and taste test until vibrant. Do not oversalt.
  18. Serve with dollop of sour cream and finely minced chives (optional). Enjoy!

Any questions or comments, please reach out on Instagram @WildGameJack


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