Cooking With Mergansers

Cooking With Mergansers

Oh, I know the naysayers out there will scoff at this. However, I am here to say that mergansers are indeed edible… and tasty!

Living in the high country of Colorado, bird hunting is great fun, but the birds are not plentiful here like in the great flyways. Sure, we get birds! However, we are relegated to mergansers and mallards.moss-Cooking With Mergansers Hunt

Ever since I started waterfowl hunting, I have taken both mallards and mergansers without a thought. I cook them up without a thought. It wasn’t until I had several snide comments on a social media post in which I had displayed some mergansers I had taken one morning that I realized how opposed to eating mergansers some hunters are.

I’m not going to lie, I was taken aback.

I was told by one man that I should never show photos like that. I was told by another woman that those birds were trash and shouldn’t be taken. I wholeheartedly disagree with both.

The secret to cooking mergansers simply lies in utilizing good recipes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I believe a lot of hunters will throw a duck or merganser or goose breast on the grill and expect steak. It’s not. In fact, I never grill my waterfowl. I personally find it dry and unsavory if cooked on a grill like a steak. No wonder people don’t like it! Get creative…

I dice up the merganser into small pieces. Then sautee in olive oil and strong seasoning. And by seasoning, I don’t mean salt and pepper. That won’t do either. I delve into Mexican, Thai, and Mongolian recipes that have spice and flavor. Keeping a recipe that allows the meat to remain moist in a spicy sauce eliminates the dryness of the meat as well as mask some of the gamey flavors of mergansers.moss-Cooking With Mergansers Bird

Try this: Merganser Fajitas

  • Dice the meat into small pieces.
  • Sautee in a spicy fajita sauce.
  • Serve with sauteed onions and peppers.
  • Add cheese and spicy guacamole.

Want to up the game? Add Anaheim or poblano peppers to the mix. I find that cooking isn’t necessarily a recipe… it’s experimenting with great flavors.

Try this: Mongolian Merganser

  • Sautee diced merganser in olive oil.
  • Add fresh ginger and garlic.
  • Add ¼ cup soy sauce.
  • Add 2 TBSP of brown sugar.
  • Add ½ cup water and simmer.
  • Add dried red chilis or ANY sort of chilis or chili flakes.
  • Add scallions.
  • Serve over rice.

Feeling creative? Throw in onions or mushrooms! Spice it up more with red pepper flakes.

Try this: Thai Merganser With Peppers

  • Heat oil.
  • Sautee onions, sweet peppers, and jalapenos.
  • Remove.
  • Add merganser, garlic, and fresh ginger.
  • Cook until done.
  • Add ½ cup soy sauce, 3TBSP sherry, and 2 TBSP brown sugar.
  • Simmer down.
  • Add peppers back to the mix.
  • Serve over rice noodles and garnish with green onions and lime.

Spice it up with more chili paste if you like!

Like in Aesops' Fables, there is always a moral to the story. Know that ALL game is edible and with just a little creativity, you can create exquisite meals. And NO ONE ever knows it’s merganser.

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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