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Using Every Bit of a Whole Duck


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My wife and I made our first trip to Fairway in Stamford, CT this past weekend to see what the hype is about. One of my great finds was a fresh kosher whole duck. This is about as rare as a dog that speaks Norwegian. I have only seen ducks that have been frozen for who knows how long.

Now comes the fun part... The plan is to pan roast the breasts and confit the legs and thighs. I will be following Thomas Keller's instructions in Ad Hoc at Home for these two dishes. That leaves me with with the wings and carcass which I want to render for the fat and use the rest or stock. Whats the best way to do this? Should I roast it in a low oven to render the fat, remove the skin, and then stick the rest in a stock pot?

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Good questions!

I like duck. One of my regular grocery stores used to have boneless duck breast available pretty regularly. Now, I don't ever see it. But I can buy a whole frozen duck. I've been thinking of buying a whole one to get not only duck breast, but also to get some legs.

Rick Bayless did a show where he made duck carnitas using legs. Essentially, it was duck confit, but instead of doing it in duck fat, he did it in lard. I could make that. Use the breasts for pan saute/roast. then use the caracass for something. Duck stock was an obvious choice, but I didn't think over rendering fat out of the body.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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No, don't roast to render the fat. I'd confit the wings as well (they work great as a flavoring agent for all sorts of other things).

You can remove whatever skin is left and render the fat in a saucepan, over low heat - cover the skin with water.

The bones - make stock.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I've always done it by removing the fatty tissues and the fattiest bits of skin, chopping them finely and rendering over low heat in a small saucepan. The (now skinless) carcass gets chopped up, goes into the over to brown, and is turned into stock. If you put the whole thing in the oven to render the fat, I think you'd risk burning it.

Duck stock is wonderful stuff!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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The most efficient method I've found for rendering fat is Chris Amirault's emulsion method.

You'll want to strip as much skin and fat off the carcass as you can, then chill it -- cutting duck skin at room temperature is a slippery and potentially dangerous exercise.

As for the stock, James Peterson recommends (in his Duck Cookbook) roasting the wings and carcass with carrots, and onions at 500°F for an hour or so, stirring at the halfway point. Deglaze the roasting pan with chicken stock or water and add it to the stockpot along with the roasted bits. Proceed as usual for stock; Peterson says six hours at a minimum, and that overnight isn't too long. One carcass will yield about three cups of stock. But! When you've rendered and chilled your fat, you'll find about 1/4 of concentrated pink duck jelly at the bottom of the container. Make sure you retrieve that.

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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If you still have it remember to add the gizzard to your confit. And the heart too if you've not snaffled it, fried in a bit of butter, as a mini duck offal degustation with the liver mashed on fried bread and maybe a sage leaf or two.

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Some items that I don't see mentioned specifically are the head, neck, and feet - although you guys may be categorizing these as part of the carcass. Many times, when I purchase a duck from the Chinese market, I'll get one with all these parts. The neck skin is quite fatty and will either get rendered or turned to cracklins. The neck itself is surprisingly meaty (for a neck) and as much as like roasting it and nibbling on it, it usually ends up becoming part of the stock. As for the feet, that depends. I've been known to nibble on them together with the neck, other times they end up in the stock. Unfortunately, I only run into then two at a time. If I had a quantity of them, I'd braise them with fermented black beans and chiles, dim sum style. As for the head, that's one part that I end up throwing out because I have no use for it. Do any of you get head-on ducks? If so, what do you do with the heads?

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The most efficient method I've found for rendering fat is Chris Amirault's emulsion method.

You'll want to strip as much skin and fat off the carcass as you can, then chill it -- cutting duck skin at room temperature is a slippery and potentially dangerous exercise.

As for the stock, James Peterson recommends (in his Duck Cookbook) roasting the wings and carcass with carrots, and onions at 500°F for an hour or so, stirring at the halfway point. Deglaze the roasting pan with chicken stock or water and add it to the stockpot along with the roasted bits. Proceed as usual for stock; Peterson says six hours at a minimum, and that overnight isn't too long. One carcass will yield about three cups of stock. But! When you've rendered and chilled your fat, you'll find about 1/4 of concentrated pink duck jelly at the bottom of the container. Make sure you retrieve that.

500°F?? That's some serious heat! I'd like to save any residual meat on the carcass. I'm afraid that the meat will dry out at that temp. I assume that I would add the roasted carrots and onions to the stock pot as well. I've been wanting to try making a stock in my crock pot, so this will give me a chance.

The other side of this discussion is what to serve with the duck breast. Maybe some potatoes roast in a little duck fat?

ETA... I just found this wonderful looking duck stock from Paula Wolfert http://www.chow.com/recipes/12478-dark-rich-duck-stock. The only issue is that the recipe calls for 4 duck carcasses. Scaling it down to 1 carcass will not leave me with much stock.

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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It very much depends upon the breed of duck. Anything less then a moulard just doesn't hack it for doing a duck the French way.

If you're lucky enough to get a Moulard duck then you're in good shape to to fry the breasts (magret) gently which will give you lots of fat from the skin. The leg/thigh (cuisse) pieces can then be confited. Th skin can be used to make more fat by slowly cooking it with water to render the fat. The wings can also be confited. The neck can be skinned, the meat slowly cooked then added to onions & bread crumbs then stuffed back into the skin to make Cou de canard. Finally the carcass can be fried in the fat to make make what is called friton.

Or at least that's how my French neighbors have taught me to do it. There's quite a bit about this on my blog.

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It very much depends upon the breed of duck. Anything less then a moulard just doesn't hack it for doing a duck the French way.

If you're lucky enough to get a Moulard duck then you're in good shape to to fry the breasts (magret) gently which will give you lots of fat from the skin. The leg/thigh (cuisse) pieces can then be confited. Th skin can be used to make more fat by slowly cooking it with water to render the fat. The wings can also be confited. The neck can be skinned, the meat slowly cooked then added to onions & bread crumbs then stuffed back into the skin to make Cou de canard. Finally the carcass can be fried in the fat to make make what is called friton.

Or at least that's how my French neighbors have taught me to do it. There's quite a bit about this on my blog.

Thanks Dave.

The package does not specify species. But it is a mass produced duck, so I'm pretty sure it's a Long Island variety.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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500°F?? That's some serious heat! I'd like to save any residual meat on the carcass. I'm afraid that the meat will dry out at that temp. I assume that I would add the roasted carrots and onions to the stock pot as well. I've been wanting to try making a stock in my crock pot, so this will give me a chance.

I thought so too, but I trust Peterson (disclosure: I'm working with him on a new edition of his duck book), so I tried it. It makes a great product, assuming you want a roasted stock, of course. I'm not sure what your concern is with the meat; most of what you're losing is water, and since you're making stock, it's doneness isn't really important, is it?

And yes, you've almost certainly got a Long Island (Pekin) duck.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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After I take off the breasts for cooking and the legs for confiting, I use the remainder of the duck for stock. First I roast briefly to brown and render off some of the fat, which is tipped into ice cube trays for subsequent freezing. I then make the stock with traditional aromatics (carrots, onion, celery). The stock is made in a pressure cooker. This serves to render out any residual fat. I then strain, refrigerate, skim off fat (which again goes into ice cube trays). The stock is then canned as I have more cupboard than freezer space. Delicious stock, lots of fat. I toss the meat though as all the flavor has been sucked out into the stock.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I always render fat (either chicken or duck) in water. The skin, once the fat has been rendered and roasted is great; I usually use it as a garnish - if it lasts that long.

I understand why Dan wants to use as much of the meat as possible. Frozen kosher duck can sometimes be found. But, this is the first time I have heard of fresh duck in Connecticut. Even a butcher I sometimes use in Brooklyn has never had fresh duck. I plan to stop in Stamford in the next week or so to get a few - should prove to be interesting with Passover coming up.

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When I have been presented with a whole duck I go back to a recipe from Julia Child (in either "Company" or "More Company" though it might be in her other books as well) where she:

1. Roasts whole bird at a high temperature for a relatively short timejust to get it partially cooked.

2. Dismember said bird - remove breasts, legs/thighs, all the skin, reserve carcass and wings & tips for stock

3. Coat legs & thighs with dijon mustard and roll in fresh bread crumbs and continue to roast til done to your taste

4. Cut the skin into 1/2 inch wide strips and roast in pan along with legs until it turns into yummy crackling.

5. At service, slice the breasts on the angle and poach briefly in port and (I think) swirl in some butter to finish the sauce - I can't remmeber the precise rest of the details here.

6. Serve the now perfectly cooked parts of the bird = slices of breast, a succulent crusted leg/thigh and some crispy, tasty crackling. You have the carcass for stock and should be rendered fat for another use. (or make duck soup!

Sorry, this is somewhat vague since I am on a road trip and don't have cookbooks with me but, as Julia says, this is a great way to have all of the duck cooked properly (as oppossed to just trying to roast it whole) and there is no last minute fussing with trying to carve a bird for service, the messy stuff is done ahead of time.

She recommends (and I fully concur) serving this with a green vegetable and a silky smooth puree of parsnips - great combo.

Nothing wrong with confit of duck as the previous posters have suggested (use sous vide if you have it - much less fat required)

Llyn

Llyn Strelau

Calgary, Alberta

Canada

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Are the feet of ducks gelatin rich like chicken feet are?

Duck feet have some gelatin at the joints, but are not gelatin rich like chicken feet. They are considerably less "meaty". Pretty much just skin/webbing and bones - not a lot of that gelatinous stuff under the skin like chicken feet.

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500°F?? That's some serious heat! I'd like to save any residual meat on the carcass. I'm afraid that the meat will dry out at that temp. I assume that I would add the roasted carrots and onions to the stock pot as well. I've been wanting to try making a stock in my crock pot, so this will give me a chance.

I thought so too, but I trust Peterson (disclosure: I'm working with him on a new edition of his duck book), so I tried it. It makes a great product, assuming you want a roasted stock, of course. I'm not sure what your concern is with the meat; most of what you're losing is water, and since you're making stock, it's doneness isn't really important, is it?

And yes, you've almost certainly got a Long Island (Pekin) duck.

Thanks for the feedback. After roasting, I will follow Peterson's instructions in Splendid Soups for a chicken stock.

Here is the progress so far...

Here is the beast in question. Just under 4lbs...

gallery_61658_6898_25034.jpg

Broken down into basic cuts. Hopefully I did a decent job with it.

gallery_61658_6898_76762.jpg

The legs and breasts cleaned up and excess fat removed. Hopefully not too much removed...

gallery_61658_6898_7199.jpg

And finally, the carcass ready for the oven and the skin ready to be made into schmaltz and grebnes.

gallery_61658_6898_48033.jpg

If I don't have enough fat for the confit, can I mix the duck fat with some olive oil?

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I rendered out the skin and came up with 2 cups of schmaltz and a handful of grebenes. I roasted the carcass, but the veg got a little dark to crispy. I made the stock, which turned out beautifully rich and a nice dark mahogany brown. I need to find a good soup to make with the stock.

It looks like I am using every part but the quack... what can I do with the quack?

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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It looks like I am using every part but the quack... what can I do with the quack?

Cheese and quackers. :biggrin:

Ha!! Good one!! :biggrin:

I am wondering if I should make a sauce for the pan roasted breasts. Any thoughts? I could just make a quick brown duck stock veloute... or is that too easy??

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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It looks like I am using every part but the quack... what can I do with the quack?

Cheese and quackers. :biggrin:

Ha!! Good one!! :biggrin:

I am wondering if I should make a sauce for the pan roasted breasts. Any thoughts? I could just make a quick brown duck stock veloute... or is that too easy??

Dan

Last weekend, I made this sour cherry red wine sauce to go along with a duck dish that I made. I think it would go nicely with your pan roasted breasts. As a bonus, you can substitute your duck stock for the chicken stock in the recipe.

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Thanks everyone!

We had the duck breasts last night with Thomas Keller's suggested "butter" braised brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, and radishes. I used margarine to keep everything kosher and substituted turnip for the kohlrabi as I could not find it locally. Dinner was accompanied by a bottle of Rodenbach Vintage 2007. I thought about doing a sauce, but then smacked myself in the head... If it needed a sauce, Chef Keller would have said so in his recipe. Everything was delicious, but that is not surprising given the recipes are from Thomas Keller.

gallery_61658_6898_35062.jpg

Later tonight I will stick the legs in the crock pot for a little confit action. I only have 1.5 cups of schmaltz, so I'm going to save that for something else and use olive oil exclusively. Is there a way to separate the schmaltz from the olive oil after it is done cooking?

Any suggestions on what to do with the duck stock?

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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