February 26, 2014 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Somebody gifted me a whole duck, humanely raised, with the head on and everything. What should I do with this beauty? I want to use as many parts as possible. Thanks!!

It's a small duck. My idea was to cut off the breasts and sear those for supper, take the skin and render the fat for other purposes, and then slow cook the carcas with white beans and veg to make cassoulet? Maybe confit the legs in that fat?

If you have other ideas (real Peking Duck?) or practical experience utilizing a whole bird like this, please lay it on me!

PS - we have eyeballs and a beak, so I'm pretty sure the tasty giblets are in there, too:-))
posted by jbenben to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't cook, but have eaten lots of duck in China. They always use the entire duck in their all of their recipes and it's delicious. Peking Duck, duck soup, salty duck (served cold) and roasted duck are all some Chinese dishes which I have enjoyed. Would recommend checking out some of those recipies! There's also duck blood soup, if you are adventurous...
posted by bearette at 11:12 AM on February 26, 2014

Serious Eats tackles making Peking Duck at home. It's a 3 day process, one I can't personally vouch for, but these guys do their research.
posted by fontophilic at 11:16 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've made this recipe a few times and it's great. I got lots of usable fat out of it and still have about another quart of duck broth left in my freezer.

Make sure you save out the liver! Duck liver is amazing. Don't just throw it in with the other giblets.
posted by phunniemee at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2014

AW YEAH LIVER. Definitely make a tiny pot of mousse out of the liver and some rendered duck fat. Any extra fat, save in the fridge (eggs are wonderful cooked in duck fat). Any random assorted scraps of meat can make a small batch of rillettes.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:23 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

French fries are AMAZING when they're done in duck fat.
posted by cooker girl at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2014

> It's a small duck. My idea was to cut off the breasts and sear those for supper, take the skin and render the fat for other purposes, and then slow cook the carcass with white beans and veg to make cassoulet? Maybe confit the legs in that fat?

Well yes, that's pretty close. Yes, breasts get cut off and seared. You'll use that carcass to make stock, though. The cassoulet you'll make with the confitted leg/thigh. Meaning, you'll cook the leg-thigh pieces slowly in duck fat, and then if you want to make cassoulet right away, you'll use one or both pieces for that instead of preserving them for later in a container full of fat.

Make cracklings from the skin and render out as much fat as you can, but you'll still need to buy supplementary fat for the confit.

You can put the neck and wings in with the stock, or you can confit them if you like. (I confit them because I like promise of the the savagely messy nibbling, but I won't claim them to be the most useful candidates for confit otherwise.)

You can confit the heart or sear it. Confit the gizzard. The liver is for pate. (Either make the tiniest portion ever, or freeze it until you have a few more livers.)

I've got nothin' for you on the beak and eyeballs, sorry.
posted by desuetude at 12:15 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Duck Stock and Confit, Mark Bittman, NYTimes.
The Nasty Bits: Gizzards Galore (lots of bonus detail on breaking down the duck for confit), Chichi Wang, Serious Eats.
Explanation of how confit works as a cooking technique, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats.
Duck Cracklings/Render Fat, Foodie with Family blog.

I haven't made cassoulet yet, so I don't have a trove of links for that. Ask me in a month.
posted by desuetude at 12:35 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what desuetude said.

For the breasts, score the skin and fat without touching the actual flesh. Render skin side down in a cast iron pan--started cold!!!--until fat is rendered out and skin is crispy. Flip, throw pan in oven until rare. Remove from oven, tent with foil, rest for 8-10 minutes. Throw under the broiler for a moment to re-crisp skin, slice and enjoy.

(You don't want duck breast cooked past medium rare. You just don't.)

The legs are for confit. Unfortunately a duck carcass doesn't actually have enough fat to confit itself, so horror of horrors you will have to buy more duck fat to do it properly. Salt the legs all over, add fresh rosemary or whatever else you like (dried juniper is nice with duck, so is star anise), and leave to air dry in your fridge for a couple of days.

Rinse off the legs, place in whatever baking dish you have that is the right size, fill with melted duck fat. Place in a very low oven (I learned to make confit in a CVAP which is kind of cheating; duck fat, legs, vac-seal, cook in the cvap at 65C for 8 hours; if you have a sous vide setup you might actually have enough fat for the actual cooking), with the dish covered.

Once the legs are fully cooked through, you can either eat as-is (I suggest roasting to crisp the skin up), chill and use very soon, or pour the whole assemblage into a sterilized jar and leave it until you need it.

Necks, wingtips, and the rest of the carcass are for stock. Roast them until the bones are nicely coloured; this will give a deeper flavour to your duck stock, which is A Thing Of Joy And Beauty to have.

For the wings I'd just say fuck it and make myself a couple of duck wings and be decadent.

For the feet, follow any standard Chinese recipe for chicken feet.

I'm not a particular fan of offal, but I have been told that duck hearts are delicious roasted relatively rare. The liver, of course, is for making pate or chopped liver.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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