Duck Sausage with Cheddar Polenta and an Autumn Compote

My inspiration to make duck sausage started 2 years ago when I was competing in Jimmy’s No. 43 Cassoulet cook-off. I can go on and on about Cassoulet and will this coming January when it is Cassoulet competition time once again.

Sausage is really not that difficult to make and can be a fun process. There are many advantages in making your own sausages. You are in control of your own ingredients and can create your own personalized recipe to suit your taste.  

You can use any type of meat, either by itself or with one another. Your sausage mixture should consist of both lean meat at 60% and fatty meat at 40%. Common herbs used are: basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme and mint. Common spices used are: allspice, chili, coriander, cumin, ginger, mace, nutmeg and paprika. Some sausages may include a splash of spirits to add flavor and can act as a preservative too. You can create sausages which are stuffed into natural casings or you can try your hand at making patty-style skinless sausages as I have for this recipe.

The easiest device to use to make sausage is one with an electric grinder. My stand mixer works well and has a grinder attachment with 2 different size grinding plates course and fine. You simply turn the machine on at a low speed, push the meat down the feed tube with the pusher provided, and catch the ground meat into a bowl.

This recipe is a great autumn dish. The cheddar in the polenta paired with the duck sausage that has apple and currant undertones is devine. The autumn compote which is slightly sweet contrasts the rich and creamier flavors nicely.

Duck Sausage
Duck is a lean meat. Be sure to use a mixture of breast and thigh meat because the breast on its own can be a little dry.


  • 1 lb skinless, boneless duck breast
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless Duck Thigh
  • ½ lb pork fat back
  • 1 tbsp of fresh sage leaves chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh pepper
  • 1 tbsp  salt
  • 1 tbsp of minced shallots
  • 4 tbsp of apple jack whiskey
  • ¼ cup of currants soaked in apple jack whiskey


  1. Soak the currants in apple jack whiskey for at least 1 hr. Any liquid leftover will be used for the sausage mixture. 
  2. Prep the herbs, spices and shallots then set aside.
  3. Cut the meat and pork fat back into 1 inch cubes and disperse together in a bowl.
  4. Refrigerate the meat mixture for at least 1 hour so it is chilled before putting through the feed tube to be ground.
  5. Have the grinder on low speed, use the course plate and press the meat through the feed tube into a bowl. Once the meat is in the bowl then add all your remaining ingredients that are at the ready and fold together so everything is evenly dispersed.
note: it is best to refrigerate the mixture overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Also if you do not have access to apple jack whiskey or would rather not use spirits you can omit and replace the soaking for currants with water.

Next Day
Scoop up the prepared sausage and roll mixture into a ball between your palms. Pat the ball to flatten into a patty shape. It should be about 2.5 inches wide for this recipe. In a non-stick pan cook each side of the sausage patty on medium heat. Once done set aside for later assembly.

note: depending on the size of your sausage patty depends on the cooking time. For this recipe each side took 2-3 minutes.

Cheddar Polenta


  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of dry polenta
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 pat butter
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  1. Lightly oil a casserole dish with 1 tbsp of olive oil which can hold a 1 inch high pour of polenta and have at the ready.
  2. Bring water, milk, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil to a rapid boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the polenta and whisk rapidly to keep polenta from clumping.
  4. Once all the polenta is combined begin to add the cream, cheddar and butter. Whisk until all ingredients are dispersed.
  5. Add the fresh thyme and pepper.
  6. Let the polenta cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting. You can as well refrigerate polenta overnight.  
  7. When ready to cut use a 2 3/8 fluted round cutter.
  8. In a non-stick frying pan place 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. When hot sear both sides of the polenta until it is golden brown, approximately 2 minutes on each side.
  9. When done remove and place on dish for assembly.
note: these fluted cutters typically come in sets which are used for pastries, biscuits and cakes. I find the 2 3/8 smaller cutter works well for this recipe.  

Autumn Compote


  • 2 large granny smith apples
  • ½cup of dried red cherries
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 cups of butternut squash
  • 1 medium turnip
  • 1 small acorn squash
  • 2 tbsp of good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Preheat oven on bake for 350 degrees.
  2. Peel the apples, acorn squash, butternut squash and turnip. Cut into small cubes.
  3. Cut the red onion in half. Slice into thin semi rings.
  4. Place half the items above and the cherries into a baking dish.
  5. Drizzle the items with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper and make sure everything is coated evenly.
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 above with the remainder of the ingredients minus the cherries. This mixture is going to be pureed for the dish.
  7. Bake vegetables and fruit until tender for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Take the one mixture with the cherries and set aside at the ready.
  9. Place other mixture into a small pot with 1 cup of water and puree over low heat. You can either do this with a hand held immersion blender or a counter blender.


Place the cheddar polenta on the plate and place a tsp of the puree mixture on top. Then place the sausage patty on top of the puree and then top it off with the autumn compote. 

Duck from Crescent Duck Farm, Cheddar from Mecox Bay Dairy