Denise Murchison is a registered Maine Guide, shotgun instructor and owner of Silverton Sporting Ranch in Canaan. Over the years, many of the hunters who come to her lodge have told her that their families refuse to eat the ducks, geese and other waterfowl they bring home.

Waterfowl marinades from Silverton Sporting Ranch.

Why? Wild waterfowl simply does not taste very good. To paraphrase an old recipe, “Take the duck, throw it in a frying pan with some oil and a nail and let them cook. Flip it over, and then throw away the duck and eat the nail.”

Wild ducks eat a more varied diet than the farm-raised duck served at restaurants, Murchison explained. “Game meat is flavored by what they eat, and duck and goose, unfortunately, eat a lot of nasty stuff.”

Wild duck is also very lean, and people tend to overcook it, she added. “Duck and goose tastes very much like liver,” Murchison said. “In order to take more people hunting, I needed to find a way to make it taste good so they would eat it.”

So she went into her kitchen and tinkered, combining garlic, Parmesan cheese and white wine vinegar. The result was her Special Blend Marinade, which she tested on Canada geese, snow geese, mallards, mergansers and eiders.

The marinade, Murchison said, makes the waterfowl taste more like beef. There’s almost a pound of hand-peeled, fresh garlic in every gallon. She marinates the game meat at least four hours, preferably overnight.


Waterfowl marinades from Silverton Sporting Ranch.

Her customers tell her they also get good results using the waterfowl marinade on chicken, pork and salmon.

“I even had one woman tell me she used it on ice cream,” Murchison said. “I can’t quite wrap my head around ice cream and garlic and basil.”

The waterfowl marinade was so successful Murchison started making other varieties that she sells under the brand name Silverton Foods. Her Apple Rum Sauce is the most popular and works well on venison, she said. Her Snow Goose Marinade is similar to the Apple Rum, but not quite as spicy, while the Honey Bourbon Barbecue sauce is good with wild mushrooms.

A selection of Silverton Foods’ sauces can be found at Free Range Fish & Lobster in Portland and at the Center for Maine Craft in West Gardiner. The full line of sauces is available on the Silverton Foods website, where a 12-ounce bottle costs $7.

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