By Cat (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
- See also: 1. Foods (About) Menu; 2. Poultry & Fowl Menu
- Includes: 1. Finding duck for recipes; 2. Storage of duck meat; 3. Rendering duck fat
When I go out to eat, if my eyes spy “duck” on the menu, I just can’t focus on anything else, especially if it has a dark fruity sauce. But choosing to eat commercially raised duck comes with a price, unless you know the farmer.
Perhaps the best known food made from ducks is foie gras, a duck (or goose) liver pate. The breed of ducks raised for this use is moulard, a sterile hybrid of a female pekin (a type of mallard) and a muscovy drake. Most are raised in CAFOs where they do not get access to water, may be force-fed corn to enlarge their liver, tend to be blind, and live a horrible short life. Breast meat from such ducks is marketed as Magret. (6)
Ducks raised for their meat are usually muscovy or pekin, but do your research as these may also be raised in CAFOs.
Finding duck for recipes
For my recipes, I use the breast or other meat of a domesticated muscovy or pekin duck. Muscovy ducks have 50% more meat than other domesticated ducks. They can be hard to find here in NW Montana, but you might find them frozen. You could also use the breast of a wild duck, but it would be smaller and more ‘wild’ in flavor.
If you are interested in raising your own ducks, check out Six duck breeds for your small farm (3).
Some online sources:
- Buy Exotic Meats, Game Meats For Sale in Montana (5)
- Grimaud Farms in Stockton CA (1).
- D’Artagnan in Newark New Jersey (2), who practice sustainable farming methods offer various varieties and cuts of duck (as well as other fowl and meats).
Storage of duck meat
The following is from The Good Food Store in Missoula MT (4):
- Fresh duck: Store in its original wrapping, over-wrapped with aluminum foil to prevent leakage; place in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Freeze fresh duck if you do not plan to cook it within two days of purchase; wrap as indicated then place in freezer bag. Be sure to press the air out of the package before freezing. Frozen duck can be stored in the freezer for three months.
- Raw duck: store as above for fresh duck. It can be kept refrigerated for two days.
- Cooked duck: remove meat from the bone, wrap in plastic or foil, and keep meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator for no more than three days.
- Freeze cooked duck: wrap as described above unless the dish is made with sauce or gravy. In that case, pack the meat tightly in a rigid container and freeze.
- Thaw duck in the refrigerator in its original wrapping; never thaw at room temperature. In the refrigerator, a whole duck (5 pounds or 2.25 kg) will thaw within 24 to 36 hours. Duck may also be thawed by immersing it (in a watertight plastic bag or original unbroken wrappings) in cold water; change the water every 30 minutes. Duck will thaw in about three hours.
Rendering duck fat
Ducks, being a water fowl, have a lot of subcutaneous fat between the meat and skin, which insulates them from the cold water and helps to keep them afloat. However, to get the full benefit of the duck meat, it is best to render off most of the fat before preparing your dish.
The rendered fat is excellent for cooking and baking (See Good Fats for Cooking). The first time I rendered fat from a whole duck, I used my heavy steel wok, which I highly recommend, but a cast iron skillet (for just breasts) or chicken fryer (for whole duck) work quite well.
Method to render duck fat
- Heat cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, then put the breasts, skin side down, in the dry skillet. Slowly render the fat from the skin without moving the pieces.
- After about 15 minutes, tilt the pan and spoon off as much fat as possible. I like to strain the fat (through good-quality cheesecloth) into a sterilized glass jar with lid, and save it for high-heat cooking.
- Grimaud Farms in Stockton CA (grimaudfarms.com).
- D’Artagnan in Newark New Jersey (dartagnan.com)
- Big Picture Agriculture: Six duck breeds for your small farm (bigpictureagriculture.com/2012/03/six-duck-breeds-for-your-small-farm.html)
- The Good Food Store, storage of duck meat: goodfoodstore.com/Aisle7/Default.aspx?resource=%2Fassets%2Ffood-guide%2Fduck%2Fstoring
- Buy Exotic Meats: Game Meats For Sale in Montana (buyexoticmeats.com/gameforsainm7.html)
- Wikipedi on duck (food): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_(food)