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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I love the taste of swan. They don't taste like mud or algae like geese or those sewer pond dwelling ducks do. I think swan is as close in flavor to a wild turkey as anything. During the fall migration the birds get that 'nutty' flavor from living on the rhizomes of the Sago Pondweed. A swan tongue is even designed to rake off the pondweed rhizomes (some call them seeds) from the plant. During good water years like this year the Great Salt Lake freshwater marsh is ripe with Sago Pondweed and ducks and geese and swans.

This thread is an attempt to show the some different ways to prepare swan for the table. We'll take a young swan and cook up as many of the 'parts' as we can:


The breasts will be prosciutto; the carcass, tongue, neck and giblets will go in the gumbo pot. The liver will be hors d'oeuvres, as always. Any fat will be rendered. I haven't decided what to do with the legs, thighs and wing meat yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Seems like a confit is in order for those legs. Can't wait to see how this plays out, 'cause I need to start hunting these tasty delights!
Normally I bake the legs and thighs with some dressing, Thanksgiving turkey style. Although one time we made whole swan summer sausage out of two swans and some pork.

A confit sounds fun but I used the rendered swan fat for gumbo rue and I'm curing the breasts, making prosciutto.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
swan fat

Trimmed as much fat off of the outside of the bird as I could and saved back the kidney fat.

Placed the fat and 1/2 cup of water in a small pot over low heat. Cooked the fat for 2 hours adding another 1/2 cup of water after an hour or so.

While hot the oil was strained twice through a couple layers of cheesecloth. Made about 1/2 cup of swan oil, just enough for gumbo rue.



Swan oil has a mild, sort of nondescript, flavor.

I put salt and pepper on a crackling and found it to be too tough to chew.

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
swan neck

Swan necks are 18" to 22" long and have enough meat on them to make a pot of gumbo. Skin the neck and cut into 1 1/2" long pieces.

Immature swan neck:


Here's 8 or so pieces of cleaned neck bones for gumbo:


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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
How much fat is in the skin? More or less than your average goose?
Relatively speaking less fat on the skin than a goose; more fat sticks to the meat. One of these times I'll scald the swan and pluck it. It's a lot of work though. I usually skin my geese and always skin swans.

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
heart and gizzard

There's a fair amount of meat to be had in the swan's heart and gizzard. The heart is tender and the gizzard is tough and crunchy. Both are great sliced thin and simply fried 'low and slow' in butter and a little red cooking wine. Rolling in seasoned flour or dipping in batter and fried in hot oil is another good way to cook these giblets.



The heart can be sliced, lightly salted or dipped in soy sauce, and eaten raw.

I save all the hearts and gizzards from waterfowl and my favorite way to use them is in stuffing. The heart and gizzard from this swan was cut up and fried in butter and dry red wine and then used in gumbo.



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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
swan liver

I absolutely love liver from migrating swans and Sandhill cranes. The livers on those migrating birds are enlarged, full of tasty fat, from the birds gorging themselves on Sago Pondweed, in the case of swans, and wheat and barley, in the case of fall-migrating cranes.

Swan liver:


This swan liver was soaked overnight in lightly salted milk. Some sliced onions and mushrooms were fried in butter with a splash of dry red wine until the onions were clear. The liver was sliced into silver dollar-size pieces, pressed flat and rolled in flour spiced with a little salt and pepper.


Over medium heat the liver was fried in butter with a splash of red wine until medium. Place the cooked liver on your favorite cracker and top with fried onions or a sauteed slice of mushroom.

tasty:


Hors d'oeuvres: Added some cheese and antelope pepperoni to the tray.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
swan tongue

I skinned out the swan's neck up to the base of the skull, the end of the tongue actually. So I thought, what the hell, I'll cut the tongue out while I'm at it. 8)

I'm a tongue guy but never had a bird tongue before. I assumed a swan's tongue is big enough to have a bite or two of meat on it so I cut it out. Swan tongue has backward-facing hooks built for raking seeds off the stems of Sago Pondweed, a swan's primary food source in the Great Salt Lake marsh.

Looks OK, I mean who wouldn't go after that:


The tongue was cleaned up and tossed in the gumbo pot. It was the first thing I tried when the gumbo was finished cooking:


Wow The skin was super tough and there was zero meat. The reason is the tongue has a bone, tipped with cartilage, all the way out to the tip! Other than the bone the tongue had some nasty, gooey, stuff in it that tasted somewhat like bone marrow. There just wasn't any meat there. :-(

Tongue bone. Second damnest thing I ever seen:


Hardly worth the effort, and it will be the last swan tongue for me.

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
swan gumbo

There's a jillion ways to make gumbo and they're all good. I made swan gumbo using the swan's giblets (the neck, heart and gizzard) with a swan oil rue. Here's how;

Cut up a swan neck into 1" to 1 1/2" long pieces. Over medium heat bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the neck bones and any parts of the carcass that still have some meat on them. Over low heat simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in hot water. Return the bones to the pot and add two 15 ounce cans of chicken broth. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the neck bones. Strain the broth through cheesecloth and set aside.



Over low heat cook sliced swan heart and gizzard in butter with a splash of red wine. Add about 1/3rd pound of sliced andouille sausage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. The andouille sausage used was the seasoning type loaded with tons of garlic and black pepper and heavily smoked; ot something you would want to eat it itself. See post #52 here: http://utahwildlife.net/forum/26-recipes/15220-sausage-recipes-6.html#post215070

Chop 1 cup each of onion, celery and green bell pepper.



Render the swan fat and strain it through a couple layers of cheese cloth. In a large skillet over medium heat mix 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of swan oil. Stir continuously until the rue is a dark chocolate brown, Be careful, the rue will darken quickly using swan oil.

Add the vegetables and 2 cans of chicken broth to the hot rue. Add Chachere's seasoning to taste. I recommend starting with about 1 level teaspoon of Chachere's Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes. Transfer the mix to the stew pot and add the strained broth, the giblets and neck bones. At this pint I added the swan tongue and pre-cooked swan carcass.

Simmer the gumbo for 45 minutes or until the meat falls off the neck bones. Add some sliced okra and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve over a bowl of rice and top with chopped green onions and fresh parsley. A pinch of filé seasoning adds a nice flavor.



bon appetit
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
swan prosciutto

Swan Prosciutto:

2 swan breasts - skinned

Cure/rub:
3/4 cup - kosher salt or pickling salt
2 tbsp - sugar
2 tbsp - garlic powder
1 tbsp - mild paprika
1 tbsp - red pepper flakes
1 tbsp - ground black pepper

Instructions:
Weigh breasts (these weighed about 13 oz each)
Rub 1/3rd of cure on meat.
Wrap in clear wrap and store in fridge for 3 days.
Remove from fridge and rinse in cold water.
Apply another 1/3rd of the cure to meat and wrap in clear wrap.
Press between two weighted dinner plates.
Store in fridge for 3 more days.
Remove from refrigerator and rinse off in cold water and pat dry.
The breasts will be cured when they have lost 30% - 33% of their original weight.
Rub the remaining 1/3rd of the cure on the meat. Brush off any excess cure with a clean paper towel.
Wrap the breasts with cheese cloth soaked in red wine.
Hang the breasts in a cool place until dry.

Swan breasts weigh less than a pound each:


Rubbed in cure and wrapped in food wrap:


Cure works a significant amount of moisture out after 24 hours:


Breasts placed between two plates and weighed down. This will shape the meat into a consistent thickness:


Ready to overhaul, change the cure, after 3 days. The cure is working the moisture out of the meat and the breasts are starting to get hard:


The breasts are rinsed off in cold water and new cure is applied:


6 days total of curing is sufficient time to cure meat that is only 1" thick:


After 6 days of curing the breast have lost over 33% of their original weight:


The breasts are patted dry and the final rub is applied:


Cheese cloth is wetted down with a dry red wine and then wrapped around the cured breasts:


Ready for the dry curing stage:


more later

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