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Cooking Duck for the Inexperienced


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After a lengthy hunt for duck, I finally found a butcher here in town that keeps fresh duck and I am think of dropping what is a small fortune for one. 5-6 lbs, whole, about 20 bucks. My question is, for my first duck -> ever -> I would like to do something fantastic. What recipe would you give a duck newbie???

:raz:

Thanks!

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Here are two recipes to check out that sound excellent with good reviews (sorry, I don't have a T&T):

Succulent Stuffed Roast Duck With Balsamic Cherry Sauce

http://www.recipezaar.com/93651

Balsamic, Orange, Honey, Maple Syrup Glazed Duck

http://www.recipezaar.com/110165

* With U.S. conversions:

http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/getrecipe...sys=e&id=110165

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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What recipe would you give a duck newbie???

How have ducks you've enjoyed eating been prepared?

Do you definitely want to do something 'whole duck'? If that's not a strict requirement then I would suggest breaking the duck down, serving the breasts pan fried. Score skin deeply but not to the meat, slowly render out most of the fat. Reserve same. Sear the meat and crisp the skin, and make up a simple pan reduction sauce; balsamic deglaze and berry fruit or something simple like that. The fat from the carcase gets rendered out and used with the gently rendered breast fat [boosted with some lard perhaps] to confit the legs. Rich ducky stock results from the carcase and giblets, but I'd recommend frying up the heart as a separate little nibbly.

Lots more duck for the buck. :biggrin:

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I have never had duck...ever, so I don't have good way to have it or a way I have enjoyed it. This is truely my first time ever.

These recipes are fantastic! I can't wait to get cooking now...

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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raisin/apple stuffing........

baste duck w/ sloe gin........

mashed potatoes....

saurkraut/pork/caraway as a side....

brusselsprouts in a cheese sauce..........

warm bread w/ butter......

sloe gin duck gravy is to die for

l

turn up the ac. i know it's summer but pretend it's christmas ...........

chocolates and coffee after.........

Edited by JEL (log)
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What recipe would you give a duck newbie???

How have ducks you've enjoyed eating been prepared?

Do you definitely want to do something 'whole duck'? If that's not a strict requirement then I would suggest breaking the duck down, serving the breasts pan fried. Score skin deeply but not to the meat, slowly render out most of the fat. Reserve same. Sear the meat and crisp the skin, and make up a simple pan reduction sauce; balsamic deglaze and berry fruit or something simple like that. The fat from the carcase gets rendered out and used with the gently rendered breast fat [boosted with some lard perhaps] to confit the legs. Rich ducky stock results from the carcase and giblets, but I'd recommend frying up the heart as a separate little nibbly.

Lots more duck for the buck. :biggrin:

This is my preferred method as well. I like to break them down. Duck breast are at their best medium rare with a crispy skin. The fat rendered off the breast is usually not great for confit due to the higher heat needed to get a good crisp skin. The legs, thighs, wings, gizzards and heart are cooked in the rendered duck fat harvested from all the skin and carcass for a confit of duck. The gizzards are melt in your mouth tender after the long slow cooking and are a personal favorite. The carcass makes great stock and the liver is fried up as a cooks treat to be eaten on the spot or made into a pate or the best chopped liver.

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... fat rendered off the breast is usually not great for confit due to the higher heat needed to get a good crisp skin.

Yup. My bad; I wasn't clear enough. When I've done this I'll render a fair bit of the breast fat at a low heat then lift the meat from the pan, drain the fat and jack the heat up. The breast goes back in at skin crisping temperature. Starting with the breast meat refrigerator cold helps prevent overcooking during the rendering.

After a duck or two [there will be more ducks :smile: ] enough carcase fat has been accumulated for easy confit-ing and the care in rendering from the breast can be relaxed. Duck-fat fried potatoes, anyone? :raz:

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Everyone is pointing you in the right direction, whole roast duck can be good but it can be tricky to pull off properly and can be disapointing and if it is your first time you might end up underwhelmed. Definitly break the duck down, you can also braise the legs rather than confit, red wine, some nice spices(fennel, orange zest, cinnamon, chinese five-spice, etc..), it works well. Confit is maybe a better use if you want to stretch your purchase, since it keeps well if stored in the fat and can be used to dress pasta ( amazing with the stock you can make from the carcass reduced down to a glaze and warm your shredded confit meat), parmentier, sandwiches, risotto. confit gizzards neck and such are good for salads. If the butcher is nice ask if they have any duck trimmings to render down for fat, they will often give them to you if you are buying something already, then you can render that down and use it to cook with.

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I look forward to seeing some photos of your seminal duck dish as I am a major lover of (eating) ducks.

Anatinophiles rule!

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Friends of ours from Georgetown Maine received a few Wild Duck breasts, all skinned and totally boneless. I was " ordered " to come up with a meal.

First the marinade:

A bit of coarse salt, finely chopped green pepper corns, and fresh marjoram leaves, a few drops of Balsamic Vinegar Syrup, Virgin Olive oil and a bay leaf. Overnight. Panbrown in rendered chickenfat and a few minutes in a hot oven to go medium rare. Thought a Bearnaise would be nice, and was !!

Braised red cabbage and sauteed spaetzle rounded evrything out.

Was told to do it again, maybe next week.

The guests bring the ducks.

Heaven !!

Peter
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Looks like you have plenty of great advice! Only thing I have to add: personally I find it realy helpful to get a reference-taste of a dish before I cook it for the first time, so I have an idea of what I'm aiming for. If you'd like a hit of already-cooked duck before cooking your very first, your nearest Chinese grocery is a great, relatively inexpensive resource.

P.S. Duck takes to five-spice and other Chinese seasonings like ... okay, people are going to throw things at me if I write "a duck to water," but, damn ... :laugh:

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thank you everyone for your great replies. While learning all about duck, and cooking duck...before I actually purchase one, I went to a local chinese place and had some duck. It was wonderful..although the taste was a bit like a real gamey chicken. The meat was rich, and moist! I was expecting the texture of chicken, so I was surprised.

As soon as I cook one, I will take pictures and find this thread.

Thank you!!!

edit to add: I have been reading recipes on epicurious and they say to salt the duck the day before you use it....why would you do that??

Edited by CKatCook (log)

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Salting the duck before you cook it will help you get a crispy skin by drawing out moisture and drying the skin. I do this with chickens before grilling or roasting. Dry the bird well, salt and let sit in the fridge for a day or two before cooking.

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  • 5 months later...

Ok, i started doing some duck experiments.

First the legs, got 2 of them, removed the bones completely, salt and pepper and went on a cast iron pan, skin side down. No scoring on the skin. i was going to finish them in the oven, and i was after the crispiest skin possible (i love crispy skin and tender meat) so in the oven, one of the legs remained skin side down, and the other skin side up.

After what i think it was 20 minutes, i flipped them to have some even cooking. The one that started with the skin side down, was crispier than the other, but both of them were crispy and delicious (they were served with roasted potatoes)

Went to the supermarket last night in order to get some more legs (they were on offer last time and i adore dark meat) but they were out of them, but this week, breasts were half priced. Got some (4) and today i started the experiments again.

in a bowl i ve put chinese 5 spice, dark and light soy and some sesame oil. i rubbed one of the breasts with the marinade and let it sit for 5 minutes (big mistake i know)

the other breast had the skin scored, salt and pepper and it went on the pan. i was going to finish it in the oven, and it went skin side up. After a while, it was sliced thinly tried it a bit, and just fried it for less than a minute to crisp it even more . It was less tasty than the legs, the skin was crispy, but the meat was a bit dry (overcooked)

The chinese rubbed breast was steamed for around 50 minutes (pot with water, a colander, put some foil around it and put the lid on top). i ve let it cool down, sliced it again, then i coated it in cornstarch and fried it.

again, meat was a bit dry, you could taste the spices, but not what i was after for.

So i need some help now.

I want to be able to have that chinese styled duck with the crispy skin and the soft flesh. It doesnt have to stop there, anything that will produce crispy skin and mouth watering meat is acceptable. I have 2 more breasts in the freezer and i am going to buy a whole bird (or 2) next week.

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For breasts, just do what you did: Score, season, crisp the fat, into the oven. Use a low temp oven (100C/212F or so, higher if you are in a hurry) and a digital thermometer (important!).

Take out the breast when the thermometer shows 55-60C/130 - 140F depending on how pink you want it. 60 C will only be bareley pink, so 55-57 is what I do. Rest. Carve. Will be perfect every time.

Can't help you with the wet marinade preparation though.

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Yeah it's really important not to overcook duck breasts...anything past medium should not be considered.

Duck is very versatile...asian preparations are a natural, but so are just a simple pan roast with a fruity/acidic sauce. The simplest way to make a delicious duck sauce is to mascerate some fruit overnight, then cook the fruit, sugar and juices in a pan (with some vinegar and some additional seasonings if desired) until the fruit begins to break down and the sauce is syrupy. Duck is a very rich, fatty meat so it helps to have a sweet/tart sauce to balance.

Make sure that you save all the fat that renders from the duck breasts...it makes a great cooking fat for just about anything.

I would score the duck skin (as you did) and render the fat out on a LOW pan for a while...until about half of it is gone, and draining the fat as you go. Then cook anyway you wish...but I prefer pan roasting. Get god color on the skin side then slide into an oven.

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i think the fat from the breast is not enough for what i am after.

i remember the legs being far more juicy.

i am not after what heston did on his recent cooking show, but i remember going to chinatown in NY getting half a duck for $8.50 and it was amazing.

i guess i will need a whole duck to experiment better?

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I would score the duck skin (as you did) and render the fat out on a LOW pan for a while...until about half of it is gone, and draining the fat as you go. Then cook anyway you wish...but I prefer pan roasting. Get god color on the skin side then slide into an oven.

This is how I do it -- the rendering out on low can take 20 or thirty minutes. The last three minutes or so is when I turn the breast over to assure it gets cooked on the "raw" side. Keep in mind, duck can be served RARE as it does not carry the same frightful salmonella bacteria that raw chicken does; the reason so many people over-cook duck, I think...

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so put the breast on a cold pan, turn it on to medium, then up the heat gradually or medium heated pan, they go up after a while?

also non stick pan, cast iron, or normal pan would be best?

Start it in a cold pan and leave it on low heat. Once most of the fat has rendered out you can turn the heat up to get nice color. Once the skin is a nice mahogany/brown color, you can flip and go into an oven. Any pan should work just fine--nonstick might be the best for your first time.

The probable reason why your duck breast was dry was because you over cooked it. A duck breast should be quite juicy, and the added fat should also give a nice viscosity in the mouth. It's also a good idea to let it rest in a warm place for about 5-10 mins to let the internal juices of the meat rest stay inside.

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  • 2 weeks later...

ok i made a test today.

i bought a cheap duck (not that good) defrosted it completely, washed it and patted it dry with paper towel. and it was scored with a utility knife.

salt and pepper and it was stacked in a pan over some chicken legs.

i went with the low and slow method (375f gas mark4) and it was turned in 30 min intervals and drained the fat.. after 90 minutes the skin was looking browned, but it was like boiled. the meat was tough and i didnt want to eat it.

failed duck experiment :(

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Um, you cooked a whole duck? Or just a duck breast? Why did you cook it on/with chicken legs?

BTW, 375F isn't (at least IMO) "low." We're talking below 300. Anyways, sorry it didn't turn out but that is how you learn.

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