Crispy Wild Duck Carnitas: A Chef Rikki Folger Creation

Serves: 2 | Preparation Time: 5 hours | Equipment: Dutch Oven, Cast Iron Pan, Blender | Also Suitable for: Turkey, Chicken, other Game Birds


  • 4 duck breasts, skin removed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup duck fat
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup coffee
  • 4 cups duck stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Cilantro Lime Crema:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt, to taste


  • Flour Tortillas (homemade preferred)
  • Pickled Jalapenos and Radishes
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • White Rice
  • Black Beans


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat duck fat over medium heat. Sear duck breasts until browned on each side (the duck will still be raw in the middle). Set aside.
  3. Add diced onions to the Dutch oven and cook until soft (about 5 minutes), adding more duck fat if necessary.
  4. Return seared duck breasts to the pot along with garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coffee, duck stock, kosher salt, black pepper, and bay leaves.
  5. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and place it in the preheated oven for 4 hours, or until the duck is easily shreddable.
  6. While the duck is cooking, prepare the cilantro lime crema. Blend sour cream, heavy cream, cilantro leaves, lime juice, and salt until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Once the duck is done, remove it from the braising liquid and shred it. Reserve the liquid.
  8. In a cast iron pan over medium-high heat, add a bit of duck fat. Add the shredded duck and ½ cup of the braising liquid. Cook for 5 minutes until slightly crispy.
  9. Remove the duck from heat and assemble tacos, burritos, or tostadas with cilantro lime crema and desired toppings.

Serving Suggestions:

My personal serving included homemade flour tortillas, warmed just before serving. Quick-pickled jalapeños and radishes added a tangy kick. Other accompaniments included homemade salsa, cotija cheese, sliced avocado, white rice, and beans.


  • For a street taco vibe, make corn tortillas using masa flour.
  • Substitute dairy-free sour cream and heavy cream alternatives for a dairy-free crema (omit cotija cheese for a vegan option).
  • For more variations or insights into making tortillas or quick-pickles, reach out to Chef Rikki Folger for additional tips and recipes.
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