File this one under “Everything in Moderation.”

I love food shopping with my mother. We have a lot of fun talking about cooking and recipes and family occasions that revolve around sharing food, and we give each other a lot of ideas. The only problem is that we always buy too much! After a recent outing to a local farmer’s market, I found myself with a pound of ground duck (with bacon in the mix), which I’d never worked with before. Brainstorming time. After thinking about chili and pasta and burger recipes, I eventually hit on meatballs.

keeping it real food duck meatballs cooking

Yes, that’s essentially a bath of duck fat, right there, but fear not! I’d be a pretty awful dietitian if I talked to you about moderation without showing some real-life examples, and this is a recent tasty illustration of how I like to balance indulgence with health in my own kitchen.

Duck is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, and B-vitamins. However, about half the fat in duck is saturated, so this is better as a once-in-a-while food. That said, it’s incredibly flavorful, so a little goes a long way. When I do eat it, my favorite thing to pair it with is crispy cruciferous veggies like brussels sprouts, cabbage, or kale. Like so:

keeping it real food duck meatballs and greens

Conveniently, Trader Joe’s happens to sell a lovely bagged mix of shredded cruciferous goodness, which, by the way, tastes fantastic cooked in a little duck fat with shallot and white wine. I also added mushrooms, because they have a satisfying texture and take on the flavor of whatever you cook them with. Rather than breadcrumbs, I just used a sliced of Ezekiel sprouted grain toast, but you could use whole wheat panko breadcrumbs or even oats or ground flax if preferred.

If the idea of meatballs without pasta is just too out-there for you, I’d recommend making whole wheat pasta to up the nutritional value and choosing a shape like cavatelli or penne.


Duck and Bacon Meatballs with Greens and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce


For meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground duck
  • 1 slice bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 slice sprouted grain toast, crumbled or 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil or olive oil spray

For the veggies:

  • 1 tsp olive oil or reserved duck fat
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 5 oz mixed greens or shredded cruciferous veggies (ex: shredded cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts)


  1. Combine duck, bacon, garlic, shallot, herbs, crumbs, and egg in a large bowl. Mix with hands and form into small balls.
  2. Heat 1 tsp olive oil or spritz olive oil spray in a large nonstick skillet. Cook meatballs 4-5 minutes on each side (about 10 minutes total) until browned and cooked through.
  3. Transfer meatballs to plate or cooking sheet covered with paper towels to drain. You can also blot with paper towels on top as well.
  4. Drain duck fat from pan into glass jar for future use if desired.
  5. In the skillet you made the meatballs in, heat olive oil or reserved duck fat over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Add mushrooms. Cook until just beginning to soften. Add wine. Raise heat. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is about half the volume.
  8. Add greens and cook until wilted.
  9. Serve meatballs over greens.

Do you buy too much when you go food shopping? What would you do with a pound of ground duck? 

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