Sunday, March 1, 2015

Saturday Experiments: Duck Tales

This is going to sound weird, but I really enjoy breaking down a bird. Sure it takes an amateur cook like me some time to do so, but it's economical and relaxing. If you're a household of two, getting a whole bird is perfect, you can get anywhere from 2-4 meals out of it (depending on how much you eat).

Yesterday we went to Chelsea Market (one of my favorite places in NYC) and stopped by Dickson's Farmstand and picked up a whole Peking Duck. You can probably find duck for cheaper in Chinatown, but if you're already saving yourself the money from eating out, why not go for something a little higher quality?

I haven't really made much duck, but it breaks down similar to a chicken - if you need help, visit Saveur. They have a great tutorial on how to break down duck.
Ducks are the fat kids of the poultry family - which makes them delicious!

Broken down for multiple meals!

With any whole bird, always save the bones for stock! I even do this with rotisserie chickens! Put the carcass, wings, and neck into a 9 x 13 baking dish and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add some carrots, an onion, bay leaves, and parsley (and/or thyme) to the bones. Roast them at 500°F for 45 minutes to coax all the flavor out of them. Dump them into a stock pock and add about a gallon of water and let simmer for ~8 hours. During the first hour, if you have stuff on top, skim it off for a clearer broth. After 8 or so hours, strain the broth into containers. You can use it anywhere chicken broth is called for. Or you can add rice, ginger, scallions, and shiitake mushrooms to it and make amazing congee.

Never throw out the bones! Always make a stock.
My bird also came with some liver and gizzards, so naturally I made paté. My version of paté anyways. Just take some duck fat and sauté one minced shallot and one minced garlic. Once the shallots are translucent add the liver and gizzards chopped up, along with a handful of herbs, salt and pepper, and dried cherries (cherries pair great with duck!). Sauté for a minute or so and hit it with a shot of some brown liquor (I used a Maple Bourbon I had on hand). Flambé! Cook for another minute or so and dump everything into a food processor and run it until it's smooth. Refrigerate and serve with sliced bread or crackers!

I don't always eat offals, but when I do, it's paté.
When you buy a whole duck you're going to end up with A LOT of fat, so LUCKY YOU! To render the fat, just put all your fat and skin into a pot and turn your heat very low. Leave it for about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs and you will have a beautiful pot of hot duck fat. Strain it into a container once it's cooled a bit. The internet says duck fat stores for 3 months, but I highly doubt mine will last that long.

I realize this photo isn't very yummy looking, but trust me, it actually is.
 For dinner last night, I pan roasted the duck breasts.

I reserved 2/3 of the fat that rendered out of the duck breasts for my diced potatoes, and to the other 1/3 I added garlic, 3 T of sugar, 4 T of white vinegar, juice of 2 oranges, and rind of 1 orange. After whisking, I hit it with a shot of Bulleit Rye and let it simmer and reduce for about 10  minutes.

During that time, I sautéed some kale in garlic (and hit it with a little red wine vinegar near the end) and I crisped my diced potatoes in the duck fat until they were tender. I seasoned the potatoes with salt, garlic powder, thyme and paprika.

Dinner is served!
I still have to confit my duck legs and my duck stock is going to make a great soup sometime this week. So many applications for one bird! 

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