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Recipe: Duck Bacon

If I end up with a gamey animal, due to what the animal was eating or what time of year it was taken, I’ll turn much of it into jerky. Be it bear, deer, elk, antelope or waterfowl, stronger meats become more enjoyable when they’re smoked.

Traditionally, jerky is made from strips cut with the grain or round pieces cut cross-grain. Another method is jerky made from ground meat. Ground-meat jerky can be made by hand, rolling out the meat with a rolling pin and sliced into desired portions, but the job is made simple with a jerky gun, which operates much like a caulking gun. Ground meat is stuffed into a cylinder and pressed out into perfect, uniform strips directly onto smoker or oven racks.

Jerky can be cooked in the smoker, oven or food dehydrator. The key is not overcooking the pressed meat, as it will dry out. The meat must reach 165º to be properly cooked.

Ground Duck Jerky

2 pounds ground duck

2 teaspoons canning salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon granulated/powdered garlic

Steps:

  1. Skin ducks and remove all breast, leg and thigh meat cleanly from bones, tendons and ligaments.
  2. Grind ducks on finest grinder plate or pulse in a food processor until ground. Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Set up jerky gun and grease racks with cooking spray.
  5. Place cold meat in jerky gun and squeeze out strips to desired length. It’s helpful to use the spine of a knife to stop the flow of meat from the end of the jerky gun.
  6. Place racks in a pre-heated 165º-170ºF oven or smoker for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove racks, flip jerky strips and return to the oven or smoker for an additional 45 minutes or until jerky reaches desired doneness/texture. When making jerky in a food dehydrator, follow manufacturer’s instructions for drying meat.
  8. Refrigerate or vacuum seal and freeze jerky for long-term storage.

Yes, bacon traditionally comes from a pig, but you’ve heard of turkey bacon and soy bacon…why not duck bacon? The first time I made ground jerky, it occurred to me that it looked just like bacon. So into the skillet it went.

To make your own duck bacon, mix ground duck with desired seasonings or as directed in Duck Jerky. Portion out several raw “bacon” strips and par-freeze on greased baking sheets. Remove from freezer, vacuum seal in a single layer or lay between sheets of plastic wrap. These will be ready to cook right from the refrigerator or freezer. This is a healthy breakfast alternative to real bacon as it’s low in fat and free of nitrates and preservatives.

When ready to cook, simply heat peanut, olive or coconut oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Fry 1 to 2 minutes per side.

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