Utterly versatile and brimming with flavor, the duck is a perfect culinary choice. While many enjoy savoring the rich taste of duck on holidays or other special occasions, people can actually enjoy this delicious bird any time. Whether roasted or sautéed, duck provides cooks with various cooking options. There are, however, some tips to keep in mind as certain types of ducks lend themselves to specific kinds of preparations.
Known for its meaty consistency and mild taste, the Pekin duck is a favorite culinary breed. Most cooks braise the legs—which make for excellent confit (a favorite way to enjoy duck legs), while the breast is typically sautéed. Pekin duck is a popular choice when preparing the famed dish duck a l’orange. This dish involves prepared parts of the duck through different methods. On the other hand, many simply enjoy roasting this duck for its crisp skin and rich fat. Many cooks keep some of the fat aside in the refrigerator. Later, they can use it to make bacon, hash browns, or simply to add flavour to root vegetables.
Native to Central and South America, this duck is large; males can grow up to fifteen pounds. This type of duck is used in countries like France often for cooking Magret which is essentially the breast of a duck. Magret is also made from other ducks whose livers have been fattened to make foie gras. The breast is typically placed in a cast iron pan and sautéed in its own grease—no additional oils are used, but cooks may season their duck as they like. Chefs often prefer to serve this roasted duck medium rare. It’s not unusual to see this duck (and the others) paired with cherries, lemon, clementine, and orange.
Moulard duck is also popular used for Magret throughout France and elsewhere in the world. This duck is also a prime choice for liver fattening to produce foie gras. Moulard ducks are rather large and tend to be grain fed. Chefs think of the as something of a cross between the Pekin and Muscovy ducks. Moulard duck is known for its intensely rich flavor and very meaty breasts. In fact, the breasts are so meaty they tend to be sold alone especially for cooks who want to prepare Magret. Cooks may grill, roast, or sautee this duck among other preparations.
Mallard ducks are lean North American birds that taste particularly gamey. For this reason, they are specially prepared to render them tasty. For instance, one popular preparation method is to smoke a bacon-wrapped Mallard. Mallard ducks might also be used in flavorful gumbos or other stews where they are simmered considerably. When taken from the wild, they make have a slightly fishy taste. On the other hand, farmed Mallards have probably been fed with grain with lends to a less fishy or gamey taste. In such cases, they can be quite delicious and are ideal for roasting or in stews.
Recipes that call for duck can easily be found online. Many are easy to prepare and make for incredibly inspired meals—perfect for any night of the week!
Peter Richardson is an avid cook and foodie. In his spare time, he likes to blog about food on various cooking sites.
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