Americans are not in the habit of preparing duck at home. We consider duck a delicacy reserved for a special occasion at a restaurant. But I’m going to try to convince you to take the plunge and roast a duck.
Duck is expensive. These birds grow slowly, and consume a lot of water while doing so. I’m not talking about floating around in a pond—I mean that ducks drink a lot of water.
Processing a duck is also tricky. Dip a chicken carcass into hot water and the feathers are easily removed. Do the same with a duck—nothing happens because, of course, their feathers are made to resist water.
Ducks are all dark meat, which makes me extremely happy. The entire bird is moist and juicy. And though pricey, when you roast a duck you’re really creating three meals, not just one. Roast the bird and enjoy the meat as the entrée or shredded into tacos. Then cook the carcass with onions, carrot, and celery to make a delectable broth. Finally, reserve the duck fat, store refrigerated for months, and use it for frying potatoes or other vegetables.
And where in the world could you procure a duck for home cooking? Why at the Free Union Grass Farm, of course (shameless promotion of my son’s farm—please excuse my annual plug). Farm stand hours are Friday 1-6 pm. Their duck is also available at the Greenwood Market and at the Charlottesville City Market every Saturday. Crozet Market carries the FUGF chicken and I’m sure would happily provide duck upon request.
Next month’s recipe will feature a great use of reserved duck fat, so go find a duck!
1. Dry the bird thoroughly with paper towels, then score the duck breast skin, without piercing the meat, to allow the fat to escape while roasting. Rub the exterior and interior cavity with kosher salt, to crisp the skin.
Place the duck on a rack and roast for 20 minutes per pound at 350°F. Use a meat thermometer in the breast to ensure meat temperature is at least 165°F
Allow the duck to rest for ten minutes then carve and serve with your favorite seasonal vegetables.
2. Reserve the carcass and cover with water. Add a sliced carrot, a diced onion, and three stalks of celery. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two hours, strain and freeze the stock in pint jars for later use as a base for sou
3. Pour the warm duck fat into a jar, label the jar, and refrigerate for use with any recipe calling for cooking oil. This is especially wonderful for frying potatoes.