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Wild Duck Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas by Lindsey Bartosh

Summer always poses a problematic situation for me.  It’s grilling season.  And during grilling season, each request of “What’s for dinner?” is answered with charcoal.  The problem develops once I head outside to start the grill.  That desert heat hits my face upon opening the door and suddenly grilling for dinner sounds more like a case of heat stroke rather than a good dinner idea.
This past week, it has been particularly hot.  By three o’clock the baking sun is bringing the temperatures quickly to 105 or 106 degrees.  I immediately think of that age old adage: “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.”  All I want to do is hide inside my house with cool air blowing, and not face anything.  I especially don’t want to face the grill!
This extreme heat, yet desire to have a summer evening barbeque, really does create a conundrum. And raises the question: to grill or not to grill?  Struggling through this tough decision helped me create a new dish though.  With grilling on the mind but not wanting to go outside, I started to think of ways to bring the party inside and this duck jalapeno popper quesadilla is the perfect compromise.
Jalapeno poppers are a grilling staple at my house.  Any time I have a barbeque, I always start with a jalapeno popper appetizer.  If it is dove season or duck season, I will also add in a popper version of those as well.  Jalapeno poppers are a party for the mouth with the hot kick from the pepper, the hint of sweet from the cream cheese, and the salty, smoky taste of grilled bacon.  They are easy to put together, cook quickly, and are always a crowd pleaser.

Duck Quesadilla Cheese
Duck Quesadilla Cheese
Duck Queadilla Grilling
Duck Queadilla Grilling

Taking the flavor profile of the jalapeno popper, I decided to construct a wild duck quesadilla from a few mallards I harvested last winter. 

I started with three fully cleaned, no skin on, mallard breasts. Wild duck is a very savory meat with a unique flavor.  Compared to domestic breeds, wild duck is a considerably leaner meat, and for this reason can end up very tough when cooked.  Like many wild game meats, I usually prepare my wild duck by putting it in a tenderizing marinade and then only cooking it to medium rare.  However, I decided to try a bit of a different route with these breasts and it worked out great. To a crockpot, add the breasts, about a half cup of water, and two pieces of bacon.  Turn the crockpot to low and allow the breasts to slow roast for three to four hours.  The bacon will add a bit of fat to the cooking process, which will help keep the breasts from drying out, and also a little salt to help tenderize things.  It also adds a touch of bacon flavor to the meat, which works great for a jalapeno popper quesadilla.
Once the duck breasts are tender and flaky, use two forks to shred the meat.  Discard the bacon.
Duck Quesadilla Ingredients
Duck Quesadilla Ingredients

Besides the duck meat, the quesadillas need a few more ingredients.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together a block of cream cheese with about two cups of shredded cheddar cheese. 

Bacon is also needed for this meal.  I like to cook my bacon in the oven.  It is less messy and also allows me to work on other things while it is cooking.  To make perfect oven bacon, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with some aluminum foil (this really helps with clean-up), and place the bacon in the oven for 12 minutes.  Allow the bacon to cool for a few minutes and then dice up into bite sized pieces.
One final prep step before constructing the quesadillas is to dice up the jalapenos and onions.  If you are a heat person, leave the seeds in when cutting up the pepper.  If you don’t like a lot of heat from your jalapenos, clean out the seeds before dicing up the pepper.
So, now for the actual quesadilla construction! Place one tortilla down and smother on a tablespoon of the cheddar and cream cheese mixture. 
On top of the cheese mixture add a scoop of the shredded wild duck and a sprinkling of the diced jalapenos, onions, and bacon.  Top with a little extra cheddar cheese and cover with the second tortilla. You’re ready to start grilling!
Duck Quesadilla Grill Prep
Duck Quesadilla Grill Prep

Preheat the griddle to a medium-high temperature and add about a teaspoon of oil or butter.  You can use whatever type of fat you have available, you just want something to keep things from sticking to the griddle surface and also to create a little crunch on your tortilla.  Place the quesadilla on the griddle and cook for two to three minutes.  The cheese should be starting to melt and the tortilla slightly browned.  Flip and cook an additional two to three minutes.

Serve the duck jalapeno popper quesadillas with a side of chipotle sour cream and fresh salsa!
Happy Hunting!

Check out more of Lindsey’s great recipes at

Wild Duck Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas

6-8 quesdillas depending on size of tortilla
Wild Duck Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas
Wild Duck Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • 3 wild duck breasts, cleaned and skinless
  • 6-7 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 jalapenos, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
  1. In a crockpot, place the cleaned, skinless duck breasts. Cover with the half cup of water and place two slices of bacon over the top.
  2. Cook the breasts on low for 3-4 four hours, until the duck because tender and starts to fall apart.
  3. Using two forks, shred the duck breasts. Discard the bacon.
  4. In a medium bowl, cream together the block of cream cheese and two cups of the cheddar cheese.
  5. Prepare bacon by placing on a large baking sheet covered in aluminum foil and cooking in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12 minutes. Let bacon cool slightly and dice into small pieces.
  6. Finely dice onions and jalapenos.
  7. To construct quesadilla, take one tortilla and place about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on top. Spread it evenly over tortilla. Add a spoonful of shredded duck, diced jalapeno and onions, and bacon crumbles. Top with more cheddar cheese and cover with second tortilla.
  8. Preheat a grilled to medium heat. Melt about a teaspoon of butter or cooking oil. Once oil is hot, place quesadilla on hot griddle and cook for two to three minutes, until the cheese has started to melt and tortilla is slight browned. Flip quesadilla and cook additional two to three minutes on second side.
  9. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Serve with chipotle sour cream and salsa.
  10. Enjoy!

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