Pan Seared Mallard Breast & Wild Rice Pilaf with Fiddleheads

“Minnesota Duck Camp Menu” wins first place at the 2021 Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Wild Game Cook-off!

Greg Kvale and his son Pete took home the prestigious award of 1st prize at the 2021 Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) Wild Game Cook-off.  They wowed the judges with their amazing cooking talent and ability to fight adversity when their grill stopped working mid-competition. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is a national organization that fights for our public lands.  Particularly, their mission is to “ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife”.  Each year they hold a Rendezvous were members through the country come together to celebrate our public lands.  One event that they hold is the Wild Game Cook-off.  Greg and Pete have graciously shared their award winning recipe with the Modern Carnivore team so we are able to share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

Their presentation included a wild mushroom soup along with pan-seared duck breast and a wild rice pilaf topped with fiddleheads. It was paired with a Grain Belt Premium lager. Nearly all ingredients were obtained from Minnesota. You can easily substitute ingredients that are local to you, or your grocer.

Pan Seared Duck Breast - Modern Carnivore

The winning recipe just before the judges dove in. (Photo by Simon Tiedge)

First Place Recipe from the 2021 BHA Rendezvous, Wild Game Cook-off

St Pete’s Blu Mushroom Soup

(Adapted from original recipe by Greg’s niece Emily Gersemehl)


  • 6-8 oz of various wild mushrooms such as lobster or chanterelle (domestic mushrooms can be substituted)
  • 2-4 wild ramps – chopped (green onions from your grocer will also work)
  • Pinch of thyme, rosemary, and nutmeg
  • Small bay leaf
  • Fresh chives
  • 4 Tbsp butter and olive oil – for sautéing
  • 2 Tbsp flour with 2 Tbsp butter – made into a roux
  • 2.5 cups stock – wild turkey stock was used for the competition, but any stock will do
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz blue cheese (St. Pete’s Select from Caves of Faribault is ideal)
  • A splash of sherry
  • Cubed bread and maple sugar for croutons

Recipe Steps

  • Brown cubed bread in butter until crisp, add maple sugar and set aside
  • Sauté ramps in butter, add rosemary, thyme, and nutmeg
  • Add butter and flour, stir to make roux, keep on low heat and cook until brown
  • Sauté mushrooms in separate pan in butter until they start losing their moisture and continue sautéing until lightly browned
  • Add mushrooms (sautéd) to the roux and heat evenly
  • Add sherry and deglaze
  • Add stock slowly  and bring everything to a slow boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, check thickness and add flour/water mix if too thin
  • Stir in heavy cream slowly
  • Add blue cheese (crumbled), slowly, stir until melted
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Top with croutons and snipped chives

Wild Rice Pilaf with Fiddleheads and Pan Seared Mallard


  • 1/2 pound wild rice
  • 12 fiddleheads
  • 2 cups turkey broth
  • 3-4 wild ramps
  • ¼ -½  C lobster or other mushrooms
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ pound butter

Recipe Steps

  • Cook wild rice in 1-1 ½ cups of broth until rice grains open, if you run out of liquid before the rice grains open add more liquid, add 2-3 T butter and set aside
  • Roughly chop half of the fiddleheads(blanched), all the ramps and lobster mushrooms, sauté everything in butter. (Reserve the exact number of whole  fiddleheads for the number of people you are serving and set aside after sautéing)
  • Add wild rice, stir everything together and continue cooking over low heat until the rice starts to crisp and a nutty aroma develops, do not overheat and burn
  • Add dash of Worcestershire, remix, taste, and adjust according to your palette 
  • Place reserved fiddleheads on top of a bed of the rice and plate the pan-seared mallard next to the rice

Pan Seared Mallard (Hank Shaw method from his cookbook Duck,Duck, Goose*)


  • 2-4 mallard or other puddle duck breast, skin on

Recipe Steps

  • Remove. Mallard from fridge or freezer and allow to reach room temp. 
  • Lightly score the skin side only of the breast, salt both sides and allow to rest ½ hour.
  • In cast iron skillet or pan sear the mallard breast skin side down for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, the fat should render out of the skin and provide enough to fry the breasts, add butter if needed, flip the breast and fry an additional 2-3 minutes or until rare or medium rare. Do not over cook the breast.
  • Remove from heat, tent and let rest 10 minutes or so, slice and serve with ginger sauce next to the wild rice pilaf

Ginger Sauce for the Duck (adapted from Tom Collins  cookbook, Collins Backroom Cooking Secrets*)


  • ½ C lite or low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ C white vinegar
  • 6-8 whole ramps, white bulb and stalk (1 small onion and a large clove of garlic may be substituted)
  • ¼ t powdered or fresh ginger

Recipe steps

  • Combined all ingredients in blender and process until smooth, heat but do not boil, splash over sliced duck breasts

Maple Sugar (for the croutons and  blueberries)

  • Heat the desired amount of maple syrup to boiling and continue boiling until small crystals start to form on pan or in the boil
  • Pour into a plate or tray and let harden, break into pieces and place in a blender and grind until powdered. Use as you would sugar.

* Modern Carnivore is part of the Amazon affiliate program and may earn a commission on sales made from clicking on links within this site. This does not affect the price a consumer pays for products.

Posted by Matt Williams

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