Rende 2021: The Wild Game Cookoff Winning Dish

Greg Kvale and his son Pete of the Minnesota chapter took home top honors during BHA’s Wild Game Cookoff at the 10th Annual North American Rendezvous this year in Missoula, Montana. Every year the Wild Game Cookoff draws professional and amateur wild-game chefs from across the country who source regional ingredients to create dishes that celebrate the breadth of our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

This year, Greg and Pete prepared pan-seared mallard breast with wild rice pilaf and fiddleheads. They served it with St. Pete’s Wild Blu Mushroom Soup and maple glazed blueberries. The competition at this year’s event was fierce, but the efforts of Greg and Pete were enough to impress a judging panel that included Hank Shaw, Rachel Owens and Clay Newcomb.

Recreate this winning dish and enjoy a bit of Minnesota no matter where you live.

Pan-Seared Mallard Breast With Wild Rice Pilaf and Fiddleheads Served With St. Pete's Wild Blu Mushroom Soup and Maple Glazed Blueberries

Photo by Aaron Agosto 

St. Pete’s Wild Blu Mushroom Soup


  • 6-8 ounces of various wild mushrooms such as lobster, chanterelle or shiitake (domestic mushrooms can be substituted)
  • 2-4 wild ramps – chopped (green onions from your store or market will also work)
  • Pinch each of thyme, rosemary and nutmeg
  • Small bay leaf
  • Fresh chives
  • 4 tbsp butter and olive oil – for sautéing
  • 2 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp butter – made into a roux
  • 5 cups stock – we used wild turkey stock but any stock will do
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces blue cheese ( Pete's Select, aged in the caves of Faribault, MN, is ideal)
  • A splash of sherry
  • Cubed bread and maple sugar for croutons

Cooking Instructions:

  • Brown cubed bread in butter until crisp, add maple sugar, and set aside
  • Sauté ramps in butter. Add rosemary, thyme and nutmeg.
  • Add butter and flour, stir to make roux, keep on low heat and cook until brown.
  • Sauté mushrooms in separate pan in butter until they start losing their moisture, and continue sautéing until lightly browned.
  • Add mushrooms (sautéed) to the roux and heat evenly.
  • Add sherry and deglaze.
  • Add stock slowly, and bring everything to a slow boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, check thickness and add flour/water mix if too thin.
  • Stir in heavy cream slowly.
  • Add blue cheese (crumbled) slowly, stir until melted.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with croutons and snipped chives.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Fiddleheads (original recipe)


  • 1/2 pound wild rice
  • 12 fiddleheads
  • 2 cups turkey broth
  • 3-4 wild ramps
  • ¼ -½ cups lobster or other mushrooms
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ pound butter

Cooking Instructions

  • Cook wild rice in 1-1 ½ cups of broth until rice grains open. If you run out of liquid before the rice grains open, add more liquid. Add 2-3 tbs of butter and set aside.
  • Roughly chop half of the fiddleheads(blanched), all the ramps and lobster mushrooms and sautée everything in butter. (Reserve the exact number of whole fiddleheads for the number of people you are serving and set aside after sautéing.)
  • Add wild rice, stir everything together and continue cooking over low heat until the rice starts to crisp and a nutty aroma develops. Do not overheat and burn.
  • Add dash of Worcestershire, remix, taste and adjust according to your palette.
  • Place reserved fiddleheads on top of a bed of rice, and plate the pan-seared mallard next to the rice.

Pan Seared Mallard (Hank Shaw method, from his cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose)


  • 2-4 mallard or other puddle-duck breasts, skin on

Cooking Instructions

  • Remove mallard from fridge or freezer and allow to reach room temp.
  • Lightly score the skin side only of the breast, salt both sides and allow to rest ½ hour.
  • In a cast-iron skillet or pan, sear the mallard breast skin side down for 6-8 minutes over medium heat. The fat should render out of the skin and provide enough to fry the breasts, but add butter if needed. Flip the breast and fry an additional 2-3 minutes or until rare or medium-rare. Do not overcook the breast.
  • Remove from heat, tent and let rest 10 minutes or so. Slice and serve with ginger sauce next to the wild rice pilaf.

Ginger Sauce (adapted from Tom Collin’s cookbook, Collins Backroom Cooking Secrets


  • ½ cup lite or low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 6-8 whole ramps, white bulb and stalk (1 small onion and a large clove of garlic may be substituted)
  • ¼ tsp powdered or fresh ginger

Cooking Instructions

  • Combined all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Heat but do not boil. Splash over sliced duck breasts.

Maple Sugar (for the croutons and blueberries)

  • Heat the desired amount of maple syrup to boiling and continue boiling until small crystals start to form on pan or in the boil.
  • Pour into a plate or tray and let harden. Break into pieces and place in a blender and grind until powdered. Use as you would sugar.


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