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Roasted Teal with Root Vegetable Recipe

Our littlest duck is a culinary treat.

Roasted Teal with Root Vegetable Recipe

Teal are delicious and if you follow these instructions, they’re incredibly easy to cook perfectly. (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

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Teal. “Perfect, petite gifts from nature.” I’ve heard them called. This early season heralds the start of fall, an end to summer, and serves to scratch the itch for every waterfowler, though that itch is promptly replaced with a few new ones thanks to mosquitos hunting alongside you.

Teal are delicious and if you follow these instructions, they’re incredibly easy to cook perfectly. I do like to age my teal for 3-4 days and because it’s always warm out in September (in most areas), I recommend doing this in your fridge. To do so, simply add your teal whole to the fridge and allow for ample airflow. Don’t try to age them if they’re shot to all h-e-double-hockey-stick. Skin those.

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Aging any game allows moisture to evaporate from the meat, thus concentrating flavor, while naturally occurring enzymes denature and tenderize the meat. An aged, brined, and perfectly roasted teal is something very special.

I also highly recommend plucking your teal whole. Yes, it can take upwards of 15 minutes per bird with singing if you’re rusty, but that skin can be so delicious and it helps keep meat moist during cooking. For more tips on processing waterfowl, be sure to check out my complete guide.

Brining is also important, but you don’t need to brine these small birds for long. Anywhere a little north or south of 6 hours in the brine described in this article should be perfect. Make sure to always rinse off your birds under cold water after brining, because if you don’t, you’ll be eating one salty bird. Pat-drying then further drying in the fridge is also important, as dry skin crisps up much better than soggy skin (which often has trouble ever crisping up).

brine bath for whole roasted duck
A brine penetrates deep and binds to muscle fibers, helping to reduce moisture loss by upwards of 50% during cooking. (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

When it comes to what root vegetables to use, the choice is yours, though their primary role is to serve as an edible rack upon which you can place your teal, thus allowing for ample airflow around the bird while roasting. Roasting times will vary slightly depending on the size of your teal. Obviously some teal are barely bigger than dove, while others are almost the size of a wood duck.

The goal here is a crispy-skinned, medium-rare teal. Because of their small size, you can roast a teal whole hot-and-fast and not have tough, chewy legs. For larger ducks like mallards, roasting whole becomes more complicated. Mallards are likely the largest waterfowl I would roast whole, and to do so, I would recommend using an oven-safe meat probe to monitor the internal temp while roasting. The goal with any waterfowl you roast is to pull when the internal temp of the breast is between 112 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. From there, you broil to crisp skin and once brown and crisp, you pull and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Remember this resting period not only allows for juices to evenly redistribute throughout meat, it also allows for carryover, meaning the internal portions of the bird will continue to cook (and rise in temp) from the hot exterior layers.

Roasted Teal with Root Vegetable Recipe

Yield: 2-3 servings
Prep time: 6 hours
Cook time: 75 minutes

Main Ingredients:

  • Two teal, plucked (ideally)

Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  • 8 ounces crushed fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh garlic bulb, smashed

Vegetable Ingredients:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Beets
  • Anise or fennel bulbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

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Brine Directions:

  1. Bring all brine ingredients to a low simmer and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved.
  2. Turn off heat and remove brine from burner.
  3. Add to fridge, once safe to do so, and add teal only once brine has cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so.
  4. Brine teal for 6 hours.
  5. Thoroughly rinse under cold water then pat dry, set in fridge with ample airflow to further dry until ready to cook.

Cooking Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut root vegetables as necessary so you will be able to prop up teal atop them in skillet.
  3. Line cut vegetables in (preferably cast-iron) skillet and lightly salt and pepper all, then lightly coat with olive oil.
  4. Roast vegetables at 450 until nearly fork tender (this could take upwards of 45 minutes for beets and larger fennel bulbs) then add teal breast-side-up atop vegetables.
  5. For smaller teal, roast for 4 minutes then turn on broil and crisp up skin for 5 minutes. For teal on the larger size, roast for 5 minutes and keep under the broiler for 6 minutes.
  6. Keep oven open while using broiler. Main job of broiler here is to crisp up skin.
  7. Once done, remove teal and allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes before carving or serving with cooked vegetables.

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




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