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Duck for a first timer....need some ideas..

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
In my continuous effort to branch out and learn more, I've never cooked duck, and to be honest, I've only eaten it a handful of times (but loved it) at some "ugh..." restaurants (P.F. Changs...and a local OK place). I've had it in Hong Kong a lot, but only served Dim Sum style. (the Dim Sum place at the Grand Hyatt is tasty if you're in the area!)

I'm looking for ideas for a few course meal with duck as the main course and maybe a few sides suggestions.

any tips appreciated. I'm a novice home cook, with a somewhat equipped kitchen. I posted a couple of my dinner parties in the forum "whats for dinner" thread if you need a feel of what i've been cooking in the past...or you can check out my blog at Choose Life. (just my personal "learning how to cook" blog)

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 16
Are you cooking the whole bird? or just the breasts/legs? it makes a difference. The easiest cut would be the breasts for your first time.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm undecided really. I really LIKE the dark meat better, but for my first time, breast might be best.
post #4 of 16
I found boneless breasts at my local market, and just played with therm in a cast-iron grill pan. Good way to learn what the skin does, what the fat does, etc. etc., I thought. Just sliced 'em down and put 'em on spinach salad after.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
hmmm thats an idea. I'd have to take the batteries out of my smoke detectors (again) but maybe I'll do a salad or something.

I have a really REALLY good Asian supermarket near me and I can get pretty much anything.
post #6 of 16
Well first of all the whole duck is dark meat and unlike chicken, the breast meat is best eaten medium rare. Place your duck breast skin side up on a board and with a sharp knife score the surface all over in a criss cross pattern, this will help the fat to render into the pan. Try not to go right through to the meat, you just want to score into the surface. Now heat a dry pan, no oil, no butter and no smoke, just a modereate to high heat and place the fillet in skin side down. Within a few minutes you will see the duck fat running into the pan, season the meat side and turn it over. Once the meat side is sealed finish in the oven. Make sure the fatty skin is on the top side during the cooking process the fat will then run down through the meat keeping it moist and adding flavour. For medium rare I would say 20 mins but it depends on your oven. If you want to make a sauce think fruit, mango, plum, raspberries etc. There are plenty of recipes on the web but come back to me if you want ideas. Also I have an fantastic marinade for duck, I use it on the legs for confit.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

In an effort to "research" :smoking: and justification of breaking my new years resolution of cutting down the fine dining, I went out to a local favorite Malaysian (more of an indian, malay, thai) place last night and had half a roast duck with a plum sauce that was great! (of course followed by some Roti Canai)

sorry for my confusion regarding dark/white meat, however my only experience usually come from PF changs which i get BBQ duck and they bring out a leg and a breast and the breast is always tough and chewy. :mad:
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just got some Le Creuset cookware....a saucepot and a oval oven, 6qt......any suggestions for utilizing both?

anything with a spicy chili sauce?
post #9 of 16
Domesticated duck is a unique challenge in that half the duck, the breasts, are best cooked to rare over high heat, and the legs and thighs are best when cooked low and slow, as in a confit. It's not what most Americans think of for duck, but braising works for the whole bird.

The recipe I'm going to give you calls for cutting the duck into pieces ("breaking"). You should know that your oval casserole is ideal for cooking whole birds.

Duck with Olives (in the Spanish style)


1 whole duck
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium Spanish onions, medium diced for mirepoix
Large cloves from 1 head of garlic, about 1 doz, peeled
1 carrot, medium diced for mirexpoix
1 rib celery, medium diced for mirepoix
1/2 bottle dry, white wine
1 cup dry sherry (Manzanilla or Fino Amontillado)
1 cup green olives
4 tbs orange marmalade
1 cup chicken stock
handful of oil-cured black olives
handful of chopped parsley
1 oz Serrano ham, minced


Start by breaking your duck into 8 serving and 6 flavoring pieces as follows:

1. Disjoint the wings at the first joint where the upper arm attaches to the lower. Leave the lower arm and wing tip as a single piece, and reserve them. Leave the upper arm attached to the breast.

2. Remove both leg and thigh quarters from the body, then disjoint them into separate pieces.

3. Remove the breasts from the body by running a knife carefully between meat and ribs, and cutting around the wishbone, etc. Finally disjoint the upper arm from the carcass so the arm stays with the breast, and the otherwise boneless breast can be taken from the carcass.

4. Cut each breast into two pieces of roughly equal size.

5. Using a very heavy knife (chef de chef) or cleaver, break the carcass into 4 pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Dredge the breast pieces, legs and thighs in flour, heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika.

Put the casserole on a medium-high fire and put about 1/4 of olive oil in it. When the oil shimmers, just before it smokes, add half of the duck pieces and brown them. When they're browned, remove and reserve them. Add the remaining meat pieces and do the same.

Brown the wing tips and carcass pieces. When they are browned and fragrant, add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook until browned. Reduce the heat slightly, add 3 tbs of flour, stirring, until the "raw" is cooked off -- about 3 minutes. You'll smell the difference as the flour toasts.

Add the sherry, wine, green olives and 2 tbs of orange marmalade. Bring to the boil. Return the meaty duck pieces to the casserole, cover it, and put in the oven for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, remove from oven and set on the stove. Remove the duck pieces and discard the carcass and wing tips. Reserve the meat pieces on a heated dish, and set aside. Skim off as much fat as possible. Pick out the green olives and set aside.

Turn on the flame under the sauce, and return to the boil. Thin to the desired consistency with the chicken stock. It should nappe a metal spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve or chinese hat, forcing as much garlic and mirepoix through as possible into your sauce pan. Add the reserved 2 tbs of marmalade and whisk it into the sauce. When the marmalade is incorporated, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove from heat. Add the reserved green olives, the black olives, the minced ham, and half the parsley.

Plate the duck and sauce it generously. Garnish the plates with enough of the remaining chopped parsley for a fresh appearance.

A su probecha,

PS I'm working on a cookbook. This recipe, which is my own, may be included. If you reprint it or otherwise share it please include attribution to Boar D. Laze. I don't want to see my stuff under others' names, at least not before finishing the book.

PPS Let me know what you think of the recipe.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
wow excellent recipe as far as taking me step by step!!! i'll give it a try as soon as possible!
post #11 of 16
Well, in preparing for Thanksgiving I needed to get some genuine duck drippings to try in the stuffing. So one thread had led me to another thread, this one.

I cut the duck up. First removing the breast, wings and leg/thigh. The rest of the carcass was stripped of it's skin and broken up to make duck stock with the neck and wing tips.

With the leg/thigh and wings I used BDL's recipe for Duck with Olives (in the Spanish style). I wasn't sure how exactly the sauce was going to turn out but it really was fabulous. Great balance and perfectly tender. I served this along side the duck breast, which I cooked separately. I just used salt and pepper cooked and then seared to crisp the skin to a low med. rare.

Thanks for the recipe BDL, I'll be making this one again.
post #12 of 16
The local take out place near me serves duck breast with a very interesting sweet & sour black bean sauce.
post #13 of 16
You're very welcome. It's one of my several favorite ways to have duck.

post #14 of 16
Apart from a medium-rare duck breast simply seasoned withs&p my all time favourite is as follows. It's an equivalent Peking duck just not so crispy, cos that takes a couple of days to prep. Just as good tho:-

Whole duck washed and thouroughly dried. Put on a trivet and below, pour water, about 2 cups ( this will catch the fat and stop it burning.) Add to the water 2 star anise, a piece of cinnamon, 2 cloves, 12 crushed peppercorns. Drizzle the duck with oil and malden salt. Dont pierce the skin.
Put in the hottest oven for 45 mins then medium for an hour leave to rest on the trivet, and at this stage, pierce the skin on the underside

You'll need some chinese pancakes (Asian supermarket)
Shards of cucumber and spring onion
Hoisin sauce or you can buy duck sauce

When the duck had cooled a little, remove as much of the skin as possible and cook under a medium grill till crispy. take 2 forks and attack the bird with them, shredding the meat off the carcass. Keep hot and covered till ur ready to eat.

Take a pancake spread a little hoisin, add some cucumber and spring onion, some skin and some meat. Wrap up and enjoy

The cooking juices can be kept in the freezer to add to the next stir-fry or noodle dish, but remember to save the fat seperately to use for your next roast potatoes
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #15 of 16
confiting duck legs are surisingly simple.

press overnight
confit in duck fat 5+ hours (so tender the bone almost falls out)
leave to "ripen" if time, in the refridgerated fat for a couple days
gently get them out, wipe off excess fat
pan sear skin side down, finish in oven but never flip
(or you can salamander them, not as good IMO)
serve with whatever... demi, greens like chard etc, garlic mash

if you buy the whole duck you can do this with the legs (i would suggest a large batch)
and then the breasts:

butcher, score skin and fat 7/8 of the way in
pan sear, rendering almost all of the fat and never flipping until fat is done rendering
constantly remove excess rendered fat with wrist motion and tongs weighing down breast
finally flip over, cook to med rare

popular with some sort of fruit sauce(blood orange and pomagranate in season ATM), usual sides etc
ive never made duck stock... is it worth it?

btw my sear means pans as hot as possable, nonsticks wont work here
post #16 of 16
You can't simultaneously sear "as hot as possible," render, and cook until medium rare. You must exercise some control over the heat sear until medium rare; and a great deal of control to efficiently render the fat from a domestic duck (which are quite fatty).

Searing is done at fairly high heat, and not at full on hot. Searing occurs only on the surface. It takes about as long as it takes. Something which is "barely seared" is also "completely seared," and almost as seared as its going to get before it burns. That is, there's not much range. It's seared or it isn't. For what it's worth, the best pan searing and fond formation take place before the meat is moved. Searing in the modern kitchen means forming protein crystallization on the meat surface (Maillard reaction) -- and there's a very fine line between crystallized and burnt.

Once the surface is seared -- on anything, not just duck breast -- the heat is typically reduced to finish cooking whatever was seared. Although adjustment is made for the type and thickness of the meat.

Duck fat is very forgiving, and will melt quickly and completely at a fairly high heat. However, duck breast meat is not forgiving. If you want to get the fat off the breast, you need to cook somewhat slower than "as hot as possible." True on a residential stove, and much more true on a commercial.

I know it's seductive to think that one of the things separating pros from joes is the ability to cook at very high heat. It's a period we all go through and one which good cooks grow out of. As Emeril says, "stoves have knobs for a reason."

Your method is a recipe for a fatty breast with overcooked skin, and for frequent kitchen fires.

I'm not suggesting that you tell your instructors they're wrong (if this was there method). Or, that you ignore them either. Take what you can from school and your texts, by all means.

But, a full-on commercial burner usually means the cook is either in a hurry to preheat, or doesn't know what (s)he's about. You'll run into a lot of people who'll tell you to preheat a pan and fry an egg at full-on heat too. You'll also run into plenty of cooks who believe the smoke point for whatever oil they're using means the pan is ready. Interesting thinking, but (a) no; and (b) you don't want to eat there.

To pan sear a duck breast: Preheat over medium high heat (residential burner) and when the pan is hot, add a tiny bit of oil (tsp at most). If the is hot, the oil will run free; but if the pan is cold, the oil will remain thick and cling to the pan. The purpose of the oil is threefold. It will help begin the rendering process, it alerts you to the pan's status, and helps keep the duck release properly when it is perfectly seared.

While the breast sears (over medium-high), the fat will begin to render. If the fat becomes so deep the breast appears to be frying, it must be poured off. Begin agitating the pan after a couple of minutes. When the breast releases, it is seared.

Pour off the fat, reduce the heat and cook the second side until the breast is medium rare (use the touch test). Or, if the duck breast is very fatty, cook the second side only until it has some color and finish the duck on the skin side at medium or medium-low to get as much fat out as possible.


Hope this helps,
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