Brining Game Birds 101

Some might accuse ducks and geese of being strong in flavour with a grainy texture…but waterfowl is absolutely delicious when prepared right! One of the best ways to guarantee the best table fare possible is by soaking your birds in a brine—a simple mixture of salt, sugar, and water. For centuries, brines have been used to flavour and cure meats.

The waterfowl way.

Brines help remove the capillary blood found in dark bird meat. Waterfowl breasts, legs and thighs are considered dark meat, because the muscles are used and tested on a regular basis. These muscles store blood energy, giving the meat a darker colour and more flavour. In comparison, a domestic chicken doesn’t fly. With little use, its breast meat is light in colour.

The basic brine.

A brine is easy to build, and the only thing you need to remember is to keep it cold. A litre of cold water mixed with ¼ cup of coarse salt and ¼ cup of brown sugar makes the perfect waterfowl brine. Soak duck and goose meat in the brine for 8 to 12 hours, and you’ll see the difference in colour. Much of the blood stored in the meat is drawn out by the brine.

Temps and tips.

Always trim bloodshot and feathers from your meat before placing it in the brine. This prevents unwanted tastes and even potential bacteria from ending up in your final dish.

Your brine and birds must always be stored in the refrigerator or a cooler with sufficient ice. Use a brine only once, then discard. Remember to rinse brined waterfowl with fresh water before cooking to avoid a salty taste.

Flavour town.

Brines can also be used to infuse different flavours into the meat. Add garlic, onion, molasses or a medley of peppercorns to customize your brine. Commercial brines are also super easy to use. You can measure for different volumes of brine, depending on your hunting success rate!

If your family hasn’t embraced the taste of ducks and geese yet, try brine. You’ll get the flavour and quality you’re after.


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