I have grown up as a duck hunter. Our farm had a small pond on it and I remember the first year dad, my little brother and I went out and we shot 14 on opening morning before having to go to rugby that afternoon.
I remember plucking those 14 ducks with feathers flying everywhere and it felt like it took forever. We then learnt about just breasting the ducks and that is what we have done ever since. It became a tradition with the three of us on the duck shooting opening weekend and it was a special time out there in the maimai.
I have recently moved back to New Zealand after a number of years living overseas and looked forward to getting back into the maimai again. I shoot at a mate's pond and whatever I shoot we breast out the meat and I make it into pies that are then shared with the lads that were there on the day. I do keep a couple more for the efforts of making them, of course, but everyone gets some.
The recipe has developed over the years to what it is now. I find the combination of the red wine and the bacon really enhances the flavour of the duck and with the meat being in the slow cooker all day, it softens up really well for a pie.
The ingredients for this recipe make approximately 22 small pies. If you're not feeding a maimai full of duck shooters, you can scale the ingredients down. For example, four duck breasts should make about 10-11 pies. Just make sure you scale down the other ingredients, too.
- 8 duck breasts cut into chunks
- 3/4 bottle of Merlot (red wine). You're gonna need the whole bottle, though...
- 1x Oxo chicken stock cube dissolved in 190ml of hot water
- 1 red onion chopped
- 2 carrots cubed
- Chicken gravy (packet mix)
- 8 rashes of middle bacon cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 packet of puff pastry from the supermarket
Click through the photos to see the process.
- In a slow cooker, combine the duck meat, onion, carrots, bacon, and chicken stock mix. Finally, pour over the 3/4 bottle of red wine.
- Turn the slow cooker on auto for about 10-11 hours. Stir the mixture every 1-1.5 hours.
- You'll know the meat is ready once it's nice and soft and pulls apart easily. At this point, turn the slow cooker off.
- Make the chicken gravy mixture in a separate bowl and leave to cool off. The gravy needs to be cold and quite thick (the consistency of jelly) so go easy on the water.
- Expert tip: When the meat mixture is ready and the gravy has cooled, pour the last 1/4 bottle of wine into a glass to enjoy during the pie making process.
- Using your pie maker* as a size guide, cut the pastry into circles (you can use a bowl as a guide, too). Place the bottom half of the pie in the pie maker, then put the desired amount of meat mixture into the centre.
- Before putting the top pastry on, add 2 tsp of the cooled gravy in the middle of the pie. When you cook the pie, this melts into the meat and keeps it moist.
- Place the top pastry on your pies and cook until they're golden brown and crispy. Leave to cool on a baking tray.
- Share with your maimai buddies, family, or chuck the leftover pies in a freezer for another day. They go well with beetroot or tomato chutney.
*You can get a pie maker at Briscoes for about $50 on sale or you can get mini pie pans from The Warehouse for about $8 for cooking in the oven.