The meat of a duck is mostly on the breast and the legs. The meat of the legs is darker and somewhat fattier than the meat of the breasts, although the breast meat is darker than the breast meat of a chicken or a turkey. Being waterfowl, ducks have a thick layer of heat-insulating fat between the skin and the meat. Roast duck is best eaten slightly rare. I remember well, the look of disdain and and muttered disgust the French waiter when I asked for my duck breast to be bien cuit (well done)!
Internal organs such as heart and kidneys may also be eaten and are often used in Patés. According to the Spanish-born Latin poet, Martial, the Romans, who were very fond of duck, would only eat the breast and brains.
A duck has less meat than a roasting chicken of the same overall size. Cooks when portioning roast duck should give a quarter of a duck per portion. Attempts to get more portions out of a roast duck tend to result in some portions having a fair amount of meat and other portions being mostly skin and bone. It is a very fatty meat so should ideally be served with ingredients that help to cut the fat, such as orange, rhubarb, spring onions and cucumber!
Popular duck dishes
Duck is used in a variety of dishes around the world, most of which involve roasting for at least part of the cooking process to aid in crisping the skin. Notable duck dishes include:
- Crispy aromatic duck, the very popular Chinese restaurant meal.
- Foie gras: a specially fattened and rich liver, or a pâté made from the liver, sometimes taken from a duck but usually from a goose
- Peking duck: a Chinese dish, where a roasted duck is served with Chinese pancakes and Hoisin sauce
- Turducken: an American dish that comprises a turkey, stuffed with a duck, which is in turn stuffed with a chicken.
- Pressed duck: a complex dish originally from Rouen, France.
- Confit: duck legs that have been cured (partly or fully) in salt, then marinated and poached in duck fat, typically with garlic and other herbs. The French word confit means "preserved", and the French name for duck confit is "confit de canard."
- Kamonabe ,Nabemono with duck.
- Kamonamba, Kamonamban, Udon or Soba with duck and welsh onion.
- Duck with mlinci: a common Slovenian dish.
- Duck Po'Boy: a tender sandwich with brown gravy from New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Raţă cu castraveţi (Duck with cucumbers) from Romania
Seasonal Information: Duck
This information is specifically for countries in the northern temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere; particularly the United Kingdom, however it should be applicable for northern USA, northern Europe, Canada, Russia, etc.
Duck is at its best and in season during the following months: September, October, November, December & January.