I found a source for fresh duck! Fresh duck compared to frozen duck is…well, no comparison. As a general rule, all meats and fish are best when prepared with fresh, not previously frozen ingredients. This is especially true with duck. Duck can tend to be tough and stringy if you start with a frozen product.
I purchased 3 whole ducks and here is what I did with them:
After washing the inside of the duck cavity, I completely boned out two of the ducks and chopped each carcass into about 6 or 8 pieces. To make a duck stock, add to the duck bones a mix of roughly chopped –two large onions, 4 stalks of celery and 4 carrots with a little bit of tomato product (paste, chopped or whole tomatoes). Roast all of this until the vegetables and bones are well caramelized. Browning the bones and vegetables is what helps to give the stock a rich and robust brown color. Then, remove from the oven and place everything in a stock pot along with the scrapings from the bottom of the roasting pan and cover completely with cold water. Add a bay leaf or two and some coarsely cracked black pepper. Bring this to a boil. Then, turn down the heat and allow the stock to simmer for about 6 hours. Skim the grease and impurities that rise to the top and continue to add more cold water as needed. Each time after topping off the pot with fresh cold water, make sure you return the temperature to a full boil and then skim and reduce the heat to a simmer. This stock will be used as the foundation for a sauce for the duck breasts.
Before making the stock, all of the excess fat is removed from the carcass and slowly rendered. Duck fat is very clear and flavorful. It can be used in the making of confit as well as other applications. Confit is a method of cooking meat in its own fat as a way of boosting the flavor and preserving the meat for several weeks. After the leg meat has been consumed, a great way to utilize the remaining fat is in the making of salad dressings.
DUCK CONFIT :
4 whole duck legs
Salt and Pepper
8 whole Garlic cloves
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 cups of rendered Duck Fat
After separating the duck legs from the whole bird, place them in an oven-proof baking dish and season well with salt and pepper.
Add the garlic and the thyme.
Cover the legs with the rendered duck fat and place the dish into a low heat oven 250 degrees F.
Bake for about 3 hours. Then, remove the dish from the oven and let it cool. After the fat has cooled to room temperature, place the dish in the refrigerator to fully chill it.
This will keep for several weeks.
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Total utilization of every part of the animal is an integral aspect of culinary economy. Waste not — want not. The conscientious cook recognizes that the life of an animal was sacrificed for food and out of respect for that sacrifice it is vitally important to use all parts, every scrap! With that in mind, offal like the liver is used to make a delicious appetizer. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the sauteed duck liver with shallots and red wine served on a bed of shredded lettuce….but it was delicious.
SAUTEED DUCK LIVER WITH RED WINE AND SHALLOTS
Here is how I prepared duck liver: (you may also prepare chicken livers in this manner)
Remove the duck liver from inside the cavity. Place it in a shallow bowl and cover with fresh cold milk. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. The lactic acid in the milk will draw out the blood, thus making the flavor sweeter. After several hours the milk will turn a pinkish hue. When you are ready to cook the liver, drain off the milk and pat the liver dry. Season it with salt and pepper. Dredge with flour. Melt 1 tablespoon of fresh butter in a hot pan. Saute the liver in the butter turning only once. After turning the half cooked liver, add a tablespoon of minced shallots and cook until they are lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with red wine and reduce until almost dry. Present the cooked liver on top of a bed of finely shredded lettuce. Pour the sauce reduction over the top and serve with crackers.
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Another method of total utilization is to use the rendered duck fat to fry potatoes. It adds a delicious richness to the spuds. Here is how to do it: Par-boil the potatoes and then slice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat the rendered duck fat in a cast iron skillet and place the slices of potato in the fat. Cook until golden brown. Finish these with some minced shallots and serve hot.
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The 4 breasts were used for pan searing. Duck meat has a rich and distinct flavor. It is well suited to a wide variety of ingredients to enhance its rich flavor. From fruit preserves like plum or chutney as a condiment to serve with a spicy duck dish to rich wines like port and seasonings like coriander and curries can be paired with duck in various ways to make an exotic meal!
This dish will use the fully rendered and cooked until crispy, breast fat (skin) as a garnish. To do this the breast meat is separated from the fatty skin. The skin is then heavily scored with a knife in a crisscross fashion and then placed flat in a hot skillet with weight on top to keep it flat. This will slowly render out all of the fat. The fat is saved for other uses some of which will include the searing of the duck breast. The skin will be rigid and crispy brown. Set it aside for the final touch.
Have at the ready the following ingredients:
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of finely minced shallots
1/2 cup of Port (We don’t use Vintage Port for cooking! A quality Tawney will work just fine.)
2 cups of the stock (now called demi-glace because it has been reduced by half) made earlier from the bones.
Season the the breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place each breast into hot pan using the rendered duck fat as the cooking medium.
Sear them well on each side but do not over cook them. The meat should remain medium rare in the center.
When the breasts are finished keep them warm near the stove and prepare the sauce as follows;
Add the minced shallots to the pan and cook them until golden. Add the rosemary.
Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook off the alcohol.
Add the duck demi-glace and let it come to a full boil to draw out the flavor of the rosemary and shallots.
Reduce the heat to simmer while you prepare the final presentation.
Chop the crispy duck skin into crumbles. Pour the thickened sauce to cover the bottom of each service plate. Cut each duck breast on a bias into about 8 slices and fan them out on the plate. Garnish the top with the crumbled crispy duck skin (cracklings) and serve immediately.
This is a stunning presentation! The medley of flavors and textures is terrific. The richness of the duck meat combined with the nutty flavor of the crisp skin melts together with the complex dark sauce to make a true taste sensation! This dish is a creation of mine from many years ago. I used it as a special addition item to the menu in a few restaurants and it was exceptionally well received. It is simple to prepare too.
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TEA STEAMED DUCK
1 whole duck – 4 – 5 pounds
1 and 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 cup water
a thumb size piece of fresh ginger, sliced in 1/4 inch thickness
6 – 8 whole scallions rough chop
5 tea bags
Combine the above ingredients and set aside at room temperature. This is the basting liquid that will be used in the later stage of cooking.
Prepare the duck by salting and rinsing the cavity well. Pat dry the bird and let sit at room temperature while preparing the marinade. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius)
Duck can be very fatty and that is good because fat gives flavor, but we don’t want the meat to retain grease. Grease is the byproduct of fat after it has been heated past the point of rendering out its flavor value and then begins to deteriorate. If grease is left to boil and break down in a stock or sauce it will impart a bitter flavor and it will leave a cloudy feeling film on the palate. Grease will make sauces and stocks lacking luster and clarity in appearance. And of course, grease, deteriorated animal fat, is not healthy for our body. For sauces we diligently skim the scum of grease and other impurities that build-up on the surface of the stock-pot. To allow grease to be released from a duck during the roasting process, we must prick or score the skin prior to roasting. Scoring the breasts in a crisscross manner will help to make the skin crispy and permit the grease to flow away from the meat. Be sure to prick small holes around the leg and thigh section and the fatty areas on the back and neck.
Because this recipe uses soy to baste the duck we will use less salt than usual. Salt the inside cavity well and lightly salt the skin. Moisten the tea bags and put them inside the cavity. Place the duck breast side down. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan. Always start cooking any bird with the breast side down. This forces the juices from the fatty – high flavor area of meat to drip into the drier areas of the bird. Completely cover the roasting pan. I used a Tramontina 7 quart oval enamel coated Dutch-oven. (Look for my upcoming article on Dutch-over cookery. I will point out some of the uses of raw cast iron and the benefits of enamel coated Dutch-ovens.) The oval shape of this cooking vessel is just right for a long bodied bird like duck and the lid is exactly what this recipe requires to tea-steam the duck for the initial phase of the cooking period. After the first hour the bird can be turned right-side-up to begin to crisp the skin that covers the breast. At this time you may see pockets of fat under the skin. Piercing those areas, usually around the thigh, back and top of the breast, is good to do at this stage to release that fat. This helps to crisp the skin.
After turning the bird breast up, the basting process begins. Use the basting liquid to ladle over the bird. You will need to tilt the pan away from you being careful not to spill There will be some grease splatter when the soy and water mixture splashes together with the hot grease in the bottom of the pan. Be careful! Pour several ladles of the liquid over the bird. Be sure to wash plenty of the liquid into the cavity. Place the lid back on top and return the duck to the oven. For the remaining cooking time, you should periodically baste the bird with the soy mixture (approximately every 15 minutes). The soy mixture will begin to brown the bird and the basting process helps to expedite the crisping of the skin.