Two Tipsy Sisters in the Kitchen

From the weekend before Thanksgiving 2016 through the final weekend of January 2017, I helped my sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Jeff Voskamp, run Grey Duck Landing hunting lodge outside of Brinkley, Arkansas. Susan was already renowned among duck hunters for her cooking and I added a few of my favorite recipes to the menu.

Hunters are served two large meals a day: a late breakfast when they return from a morning in the blinds and then dinner after the afternoon hunt. Hot and cold appetizers are also provided.

Since recipes are often requested, Susan and I are compiling a cookbook that includes tales and photos from the lodge. The subtitle refers to our much-deserved afternoon wine break.

elk on a wall
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Anne’s Wild Duck and Sausage Gumbo 

I have been making gumbo since Paul Prudhomme first burst on the foodie scene in the 1980s. I was living in Colorado at the time and would prepare a pot of gumbo to take on camping trips in the Rockies – combining the best of the low and high country. This recipe is partly based on a recipe from Paul Prudhomme and another from the Crème de Colorado Cookbook. If it is early in the hunting season and there are no ducks left over from the previous year, I substitute venison.

Chop one onion, one green bell pepper, and four celery stalks. Set aside. Brown one pound of sliced andouille (or other smoked) sausage. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Cut up two wild duck breasts into bite-size pieces, dredge in Tony Chachere’s (or other Creole) seasoning and brown in sausage drippings (if any) and vegetable oil. Remove and add vegetable oil until it measures about one cup. Heat on high until a drop of water sizzles. Sift in flour (about one cup), stirring constantly. When the roux is dark brown (but not burnt) add one tablespoon minced garlic and the onion, bell peppers, and celery. Reduce heat and stir for three to four minutes. Then slowly stir in chicken broth (one quart or more until soup reaches desired consistency). Return sausage and duck to the pan. Simmer one-half hour. Add one package frozen sliced okra. When heated through, add salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Serve over rice. Serves four to six. Can be doubled, tripled or otherwise adjusted to meet the needs of your crowd.

This gumbo can easily be switched to seafood and sausage, per the original Prudhomme recipe. To do so, omit the duck and replace the chicken broth with fish stock or clam juice. Add Tony Chachere’s seasoning, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Poach fresh seafood (shrimp, oysters, crab meat, white fish, whatever is available) in the hot soup just before serving.

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