Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why so much fat on a duck?

We fabricated duck today in culinary school, in preparation for sauté of duck breast in class on Wednesday.

We knew going in, and Chef confirmed for us, that duck is pretty fatty. It adds flavor, certainly, but also must be dealt with in the prep work and the cooking so as not to be overwhelming when serving and eating.

Cutting into the duck gave us a literal first-hand look and feel for the mount of fat there, contained largely in the thick, luxurious skin. A good bit of it had to be trimmed away, yet we kept the piece attached to the breast meat. On Wednesday, we will score it ith a knife before searing to allow a good bit of the fat to render.

We will serve the duck with what Chef calls "poor man's port balsamic sauce." It will include the deglazed bits from the duck breast sauté pan, shallot, sugar, flamed red wine and brandy and balsamic vinegar.

Also on the menu: couscous laced with toasted pistachios and red bell pepper; curried green beans and carrots.

For our second plate, we will make a grilled rib-eye steak, accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, onion rings and compound butter made from roasted red pepper.

So why do ducks have so much fat? For insulation and bouyancy in the water.

(Photo shows what the dish should look like.)


  1. Oddly enough, the ducks my husband gets from his friends who shoot them in the wild are anything BUT fatty! Their meat is darker than beef, with pretty much no fat. Maybe it's all the flying away from hunters that makes these quackers so different from their more pudgy earthbound cousins.

  2. Interesting observation. Will have to ask Chef about that -- wild ducks with less fat. makes sense, since they have to work for their food and safety.

  3. Let us know what you find out. The ducks Craig makes -- he fillets out the breast meat, sautees it, and serves it with some kind of reduction -- look like a completely different animal than ducks we see in Chinese restaurants.

  4. Say, maybe Capt. Craig ought to consider culinary school. Sounds like he's right handy with a pair of tongs in his hand!