Holiday Duck Balls

Holiday Duck BallsThere are many ways to prepare wild game, and for the best recipes, I turn to Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather Cook, and most recently, Duck, Duck Goose. Using Hank’s duck sausage formula, this mushroom cap recipe was a huge hit with extended family on Turkey Day – even those who purportedly “don’t like gamey tasting meat.” An email from my husband’s cousin said everyone is requesting, “those duck balls” again as Christmas Day appetizers. So I guess the mushroom caps (or duck balls) will be making an encore appearance.


  • 3 pounds duck meat
  • 1 pound pork fat
  • 1/2 cup red wine, chilled
  • 1 Tsp. Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 Tsp. ground juniper berries (can substitute fresh rosemary, I did)
  • 2 Tsp. caraway seed
  • 1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds gourmet mushroom caps
  • 8 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Serrano chilies
  • 2 Red jalapenos


To Make Sausage

  1. First, cut the meat into 1″ thick x 4″ long strips to make it easiest to feed through a hand-crank grinder.
  2. Chill the meat and fat for an hour.
  3. Grind the meat and fat through your meat grinder using the coarse grind attachment. If your room is warm, set the bowl for the ground meat into another bowl of ice to keep it cold.
  4. Add the wine and mix thoroughly either using a KitchenAid on low for 60-90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands.
  5. Combine the spices in a separate bowl and mix together thoroughly before adding them to the ground meat.
  6. Mix all well. Set aside in fridge.
  7. NOTE: This recipe makes more meat than you will need for stuffing the mushroom caps, so freeze and enjoy another time, or make breakfast sausage the next day.

To Make Mushrooms

  1. Wash mushroom caps well. Then, with a sharp-edged spoon (grapefruit spoon works best), scoop out stems and underside of the mushroom cap so they look like mini bowls.
  2. Pull out approximately 1-pound of duck sausage from fridge and mix in jalapeños and Serrano chilies.
  3. Stuff each mushroom cap until it’s round on top.
  4. Brush with olive oil and place in lightly greased glass casserole dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake at 400-degrees for 20 minutes.
Kathy Dumalski lives in Southern California where she works as a marketing public relations professional and freelance writer. Kat is an avid outdoor enthusiast, saltwater angler, and huntress. Known to her friends as Kat, she is an active member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (San Diego ...