Rendered duck fat is nothing less than liquid gold. The value lies in its utility, as it serves as a healthier substitute for most oils and margarine, lard and even butter in some situations. Bakers will even substitute rendered waterfowl fat for shortening.
One way to improve your stews: make a duck fat roux. A roux (a combination of flour and any of the following: heated butter, canola oil, hot animal fat) involves cooking flour, while being careful not to burn the roux, in order to create a powerful thickening agent for soups, stews or gumbos. It requires time and patience and a vigilant cook willing to stand over the stovetop and whisk that mess every few minutes.
There are two options regarding how to finish off this stew. Most recently, I added it to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish for a casserole known as Hotdish (a Minnesota staple, mix of proteins, vegetables and starches), therefore I preferred a gooey mix and never added milk. Should you wish to enjoy this stew as simply stew in a bowl, I advise you add the milk (two cups) to thin out the contents; otherwise your spoon might get a case of the cement shoes.
Fowl Irish Cream of Mushroom Stew
Makes six to eight servings.
Roux: 1/3 cup heated duck fat, 2/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups shallots, julienne
8 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons freshly minced garlic
1 pint heavy whipping cream
5-6 ounces grated or shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
2 teaspoons each of salt and black pepper
In large skillet heated on medium-low, add butter, shallots, and garlic, lightly salt and pepper, and sauté until shallots are soft. Add mushrooms. When shallots have very slight brown color, add porter beer and let simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside until roux is complete.
To make roux:
While sautéing shallots and mushrooms, heat 1/3 cup duck fat on medium-low in large pot until it is liquid form and hot. Add 2/3 cup flour. Simultaneously, heat 3 cups of chicken stock until it simmers. Stir roux often to avoid burning. After approximately 10 minutes, roux should be hot (not necessary thick liquid form). Add hot chicken stock and whisk thoroughly.
To finish stew:
Once roux mix is thick and hot (there may be some bits of roux floating, that is okay), add cream and milk and shallot-mushroom mix, plus S&P. Stir thoroughly, keep on low for half hour, add cheese. Heat on low for another half hour (minimum). Serve and enjoy!
Should you wish to add this stew to a casserole or hotdish, do not add milk. Additionally, for my most recent Dubliner Mallard Hotdish recipe, I did not add full contents of stew (probably a little over 2 cups remained in pot after mixing stew with vegetables and proteins).
Hank Shaw offers an excellent video on the easiest way to render waterfowl fat (spoiler alert, it involves duck butts):
Additionally, should you ever find yourself searing duck breasts in a skillet, make certain to save the oil that accumulates in the pan (as it is nothing other than liquid gold duck fat). Can it. Put it in the fridge. (For a solid recipe on Seared Duck Breasts with a Lemon Ginger Glaze, check out my story with the Pioneer Press’s Outdoors section: http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_28878247/duck-hunting-dish-worth-effort)