Hank Shaw's Duck, Duck, Goose, our Cookbook of the Week

Photo by Hannah Palmer Egan
Duck, Duck, Goose books at Annisa in November

Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York's best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we'll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.

Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated
By Hank Shaw, 234 pages, Ten Speed Press, $24.99

When I was a girl, we kept labrador retrievers, among other pets. But, like most pets on our rural family farmstead, we kept these dogs for their born-and-bred purpose: as hunting dogs.

Labs are born to retrieve, bred for their soft mouths, which can snatch a downed bird from field or marsh and cradle it between their teeth without damaging its delicate carcass. My dad, see, hunted ducks and geese, and during hunting season he would return home, chocolate lab and a string of dead ducks in tow, and proudly present them to my mom, who, despite her prowess in the kitchen, would more often than not make STROGANOFF with them -- the duck serving as any generic meat may have, simmered well-done in Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and served over egg noodles, perhaps with peas. I swear, this played no small factor in my parents' subsequent divorce. If only I could turn back time and give her this book...Alas.

But, as hunter-gatherer-gardner and cookbook author Hank Shaw shows in his new book, Duck, Duck, Goose; cooking with fowl needn't be super gourmet, either -- fowl can and should be approached with the same easy, liberated mindset we lend to more common meats like pork, beef, and chicken -- as a fun and flexible source of protein that anyone can do great things with.

Also, with winter upon us, Duck, Duck, Goose is tailor-made for cold-weather cooking--the book's unequivocal stars are the fowl themselves, but nary a page fails to summon winter grains and vegetables as supporting stars: Barley, celery root, wild mushrooms, pomegranate, cranberries, beans, and chestnuts all make regular appearances.

And from the first page, Shaw's message is clear, concise, and empowering: When it comes to cooking birds, Free thyself from the Tyranny of Chicken.

We chat with Shaw on ancient duck, fear of duck, and the merits of a diversified diet.

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