We had two ducks slaughtered yesterday afternoon and I finally came up with something new, something absolutely fantastic with this extraordinary meat. I started by butchering the whole duck, separating legs, wings and breasts. It is not difficult at all, it is much like butchering a chicken. I’ll post something about that next time.
How Much Did the Ducks Weigh?
Before butchering, the ducks weighed 1.65 and 1.4 kilos. After dressing, the carcass (with heart and liver) weighed 1.45 and 1.2 kilos. Both ducks were about 4 months old. We’re trying to feed the ducks better so as to get more meat before they get to 6 months. I would personally like to be able to have barbary ducks of about 2 kilos dressed weight.
How Do You Butcher a Duck and What Do You Do With It?
Although you can cook a whole duck – baked or braised – you can cut it up and use when needed. Today, I cut up the legs for use in confit. The leg pieces are salted and spiced, then placed in the refrigerator for no less then 36 hours. Later, these duck legs will be cooked slowly in duck fat until the meat falls off the bone.
The fat and skin are trimmed off the duck and rendered – that is, heated slowly until all the fat has melted into oil. This rendered duck fat is phenomenal in French cuisine. This is the fat that I will be using later for the confit.
The breasts (in halves) are salted and peppered on the skin side (skin sliced first to let the fat through when cooking). Don’t salt the meat side because this will dehydrate the meat and make it tough. Cook skin down, don’t use any oil because the duck fat will melt and it will be enough to cook the duck skin crisp.
The duck bones (head, feet, wings, backbones etc) will be used later to make delicious stock or brown sauce. More about those in the next posts!
Note: I prepared all this in the evening because the ducks were butchered late in the afternoon and I didn’t want to freeze them before using. This way, the ducks are prepared fresh.
Then I stored the duck legs in a sealed container and put it in the refrigerator, together with the seared duck breasts. The duck breasts will be prepared the next day for lunch.
Cooking The Duck Breasts
The seared duck breasts could be used right away – it can be grilled and cut up. However, today, I decided to fry it up, again with no additional oil – and no additional salt. I cooked it on the meat side using a non-stick pan. More duck fat oozed while cooking. Cooking doesn’t take long, maybe about 5 minutes on this side. Then I turned it over on the skin side again and cooked for about 3 minutes. What we mustn’t do is overcook the meat otherwise it will become dry and tough. Aim for medium rare meat.
To go with the duck breasts I decided on rotis and curry sauce. I made the rotis using flour, water and salt, and a small amount of oil, cooked in a non-stick pan on one side, then turn the other side directly over the fire. Cooking is about a minute on each side. My rotis have black sesame seeds, and I love these!
The curry sauce is prepared Thai red curry with lots of coconut milk and sliced string beans, and two red chilli. I used the same pan used to cook the duck breasts so as not to waste that fantastic fat and flavour.
Putting it all together – two pieces of roti, sliced duck breast on top, curry sauce around it and some sliced cucumbers. Absolutely fantastic.
The taste of duck meat is indeed amazing, and the fat (which is considered not as unhealthy as beef or pork fat!) exudes this extraordinary rich aroma. I personally don’t find duck meat gamey at all perhaps because I am very fond of beef, especially served medium to rare. There’ll be more recipe experiments to come with this fantastic meat! Bon appétit!
But What’s For Dinner?
There were some duck breast and rotis leftover. So I cut of the duck breast into small strips, intending to wrap them in the roti. But I couldn’t wrap up the duck slices in the roti, because the rotis were too small. So I decided to cook the duck breast slices with some string beans, onions, tomatoes, make some scrambled duck eggs with garlic, tomatoes and rosemary, served on top of the rotis and with some sate sauce on the side (sate sauce goes very well with duck!) Dinner solved! Thanks to the ducks! 😉 Confit will be for tomorrow!