Not sure how to make the most of your duck? Here's some recipes for various cuts to get you inspired.
Duck breasts are the prime cut on a duck, and can be cooked in a very similar way to the prime cuts on beef or lamb (steaks) - hot and fast. Also, duck breasts are best eaten when the middle is still a little pink - medium. The charismatic flavour of duck meat lends itself to interesting sauces. The recipe below is one of our favourites.
Magret de Canard with Red Wine Sauce
8 dried prunes
4 duck breasts
150g carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 shallots, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
600ml red wine
large sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
15g plain chocolates
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the prunes into a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 1 to 2 hours.
Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy based frying pan over a high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, lower the heat slightly and fry for 2 minutes until the skin is nicely browned. Turn over and brown them on the other side for 2 minutes, then lift onto a plate and set aside.
Add the carrots, onions, shallots and garlic to the duck fat left in the pan and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then until soft and golden brown. Add the wine, bring to a rapid boil, then light with a match and shake the pan for a few seconds until the flames have died down. This burns off the alcohol. Then lower the heat, add the cloves, thyme and bay leaf and leave the sauce to simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Return the duck breasts to the pan, skin side down, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over, re-cover, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. This will give you duck that is still pink in the middle.
Lift the duck out of the sauce and onto a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest in a low (100C) oven while you finish the sauce. Add the chocolate to the sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more. Then pass through a fine sieve into a small pan, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon. Drain the prunes, add them to the pan, and simmer over medium heat until they have heated through, and the sauce is nicely reduced and well flavoured. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, lift the duck breasts onto a board and carve diagonally into long thin slices. Lift each one onto a warmed plate and spoon two of the prunes alongside. Spoon some of the sauce over and around the duck and prunes and serve.
Recipe taken from ‘Rick Stein’s French Odyssey’
Duck wings are much larger than chicken wings and have delicious, sweet meat. They are great to marinate and shallow fry fast in a hot pan; wonderful in a long, low, slow cook; and they are great as confit. The confit recipe below can also be used for marylands - just extend the cooking time by a couple of hours. We like to confit in a slow cooker - we’ve found that the slower you can cook, the better the result.
You could save up a few packs of duck wings in the freezer to do a larger batch, and once cooked, duck confit will last many weeks in the fridge.
Duck Wing Confit
8 - 12 duck wings, portioned into two pieces (we’ve done this for you)
about 1 cup duck fat
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons shallots, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 imported bay leaf, crumbled
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped (or a pinch of dry thyme)
6 cups rendered duck fat
1. Cure the duck: rinse the duck wings and dry thoroughly. In a large bowl, toss the duck with the salt, shallots, garlic, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours. Plan carefully because longer brining will cause your confit to be overly salty.
2. Rinse the marinated duck wings under running water to rinse off the salt and seasonings. Drain briefly; it is not necessary to dry completely. Place the rendered duck fat in a large, very heavy pot - such as stoneware crock or enamelled cast iron casserole - and melt over low heat.
3. Stick a whole clove into each garlic and add to the melted fat. Slip in the duck wings. Cook uncovered in the casserole pot until the fat reaches 90C. This should take about 1 hour. Add additional rendered fat if necessary, to cover the duck. Continue cooking at 90C to 100C but no higher, adjusting the heat levels if necessary, for another hour, until a toothpick pierces the thickest part of a thigh easily. Remove from the heat and let the duck cool in the fat for one hour.
4. Meanwhile, set out three 1L earthenware crocks or wide mouthed glass jars. Pour boiling water into each, swirl, and pour out. Thoroughly dry the inside of the containers with a clean towel. Immediately place 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bottom of each. This prevents meat juices that may seep from the duck during ripening from turning sour.
5. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the duck wings to the containers, filling each about three quarters full without overcrowding.
6. Heat the fat, uncovered, over moderate heat until a few bubbles rise to the surface, skimming off the foam that rises to the top. Let bubble slowly for 5 to 10 minutes, or until any sputtering stops and the surface of the fat is clear. Watch very carefully and reduce the heat if necessary to avoid burning or smoking; fat that reaches the smoking point will be ruined for reuse.
7. Carefully ladle the hot, clear fat through a fine-mesh strainer directly onto the duck wings to cover, allowing a generous inch of airspace between the surface of the fat and the rim of the container. Do not include the more perishable cloudy fat and meat juices at the bottom of the pot. Rap the containers gently to tamp out any air pockets. Let cool, uncovered to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight or set in a cold cellar or other cool storage to allow the fat to congeal.
8. To reheat for serving, place 2 tablespoons of duck fat in a hot frypan with a lid, and place the wings in the hot pan. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, turn the wings over and remove the lid. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature is 65C.
We don't remove the neck or any of the fat from our whole ducks, so the first thing you should do is take all the skin and fat off the neck and the fat around the entry to the cavity and keep it for rendering - duck fat potatoes!
Preheat oven to 190C
Season the inside and all over the bird with salt and pepper.
Stuff the cavity with garlic, thyme, rosemary, or any herb you like really. Duck pairs very well with fruit generally so also include a fruit in the stuffing - perhaps choosing a seasonal favourite: prunes in winter, or cherries or peaches in summer.
Place in oven and roast until golden brown - about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Let the duck rest for 15 minutes before carving.
You can reserve the fat from the pan for roasting potatoes or sautéing vegetables.