What should I do with a fresh duck and a goose that won't be used for 6 days?
November 23, 2009 9:56 AM   Subscribe

What's the highest and best use of a duck and a goose, picked up last Saturday, but not destined for the table until our Thanksgiving meal on Friday?

A friend dropped off a locally-raised free-range (ie, slightly less fatty) duck and goose on Saturday, originally so that I could store them in my deep freezer. However, I've not gotten my turkey yet, so I'd love to use these things as part of an 8-10 person belated Thanksgiving on Friday.

That's a total of 6 days in the refrigerator. Four more than the recommended 2-3 day max. The birds have already been in the fridge for 2 days. I'm not sure if that 2-3 day recommendation is for food safety reasons or because the meat dries out. If it's the latter, fine, because I'll want to dry for a couple days to get crispy skin anyhow.

Do I:
A) Freeze them now, thaw them out on Wednesday, dry them on Thursday and roast on Friday? Freezing for such a short period seems like it'd do more harm than good.
B) Say "screw food safety guidelines" and leave them in the fridge? I don't want to risk unappetizing/sickening food on the big day, though.
C) Convert them to confit in my crock pot tonight and use that to make a cassoulet? Every recipe I've seen for confit involves having a bunch of duck/goose fat to begin with. I don't have any on hand. Could I strip off all the fatty parts, render it, and pour that over all the meat in a crock pot? Will there be enough fat? Would it be a shame to mix them together and lose their essential duck-ness and goose-ness?

Bonus points for links to favorite recipes. I'm not wedded to any particular cooking strategy, just so long as there's something delicious and meaty for Thanksgiving. I've got a Big Green Egg that does a heck of a good job when it comes to roasting, though.
posted by paanta to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think you'll get enough fat for confit from the birds themselves. You can probably pick up some rendered fat at Whole Foods or a specialty\gourmet shop.
posted by sanko at 10:06 AM on November 23, 2009

Having rendered duck fat from skin and fat in order to make confit, I can tell you you'll need far more fat than is in the duck and goose to make confit. I recommend getting pre-rendered fat, as rendering it yourself takes several hours and makes the house smell of duck fat for days (nice at first but it gets old). Unfortunately, pre-rendered fat in the quantities necessary to make confit (i.e., to completely submerge the cut up birds) is kind of expensive.

Alternatively I recommend brining them in the fridge then smoking or roasting them. I recently brined and smoked a turkey using the brine recipe from Ruhlman's Charcuterie. The brine uses curing salt (aka pink salt, salt containing 6.25% sodium nitrite) in addition to regular salt, sugar, garlic, herbs, etc. The brining process for a whole bird takes 2 days of brine plus at least a few hours of drying in the fridge. That should be a long enough process that you can start, say, tomorrow, and finish up on Friday. If you don't have a large enough vessel for the brining process, a 5 gallon cooler (the kind they use to dump Gatorade on coaches) works great and isn't too expensive.
posted by jedicus at 10:18 AM on November 23, 2009

Oh, you'll definitely want to get a proper brining recipe if you go the curing route. Guessing on the amount of pink salt to use is unsafe. Note that cured birds will retain a pinkish hue when done, just like a cured ham or bacon, so make sure to cook to temperature rather than appearance.
posted by jedicus at 10:20 AM on November 23, 2009

Make a TurGooDuck.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:52 AM on November 23, 2009

I have no idea about the turkey and Thanksgiving, but if you can't find a way to keep the duck until then, here's an idea: the last time we had a free-range duck we made a Mauritian Duck Curry with it. We saved the bones, made stock with them, used the stock to make risotto, then used the leftover risotto to make arancini. It was the duck that kept on giving.
posted by harriet vane at 7:37 AM on November 24, 2009

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