Duck, in culinary terms, referred to the meat obtained from the birds that belongs to the Anatidae family. Duck meat can be taken from both fresh water as well as sea water birds. The parts that are mainly used to obtain duck meat are mostly the legs and the breast of the bird. The leg meat is usually fattier as compared to the breast meat. Other parts, such as, heart and kidney of the birds are often used to make delicacies. Liver of duck is also considered a specialty that is fondly added to make several duck recipes. Duck dishes that are popular in international cuisines are roasted duck, Peking duck and duck confit.
History of Duck Recipes
It is believed that the duck was domesticated in China, during Yunan dynasty. The duck meat had substantially replaced the goose meat in Chinese meals. Chinese natives used to roast duck on various festive occasions, like Europeans, who are famous for serving roasted turkey as their festive mainstay. The duck that has been used for roasting purposes in China is called ‘Beijing duck’. It is not only popular in Chinese cuisine but also quite famous in other international cuisines. The roasted duck was a specialty and an exotic food for Chinese emperors. Initially, the duck was roasted using the conventional oven but gradually new methods were employed to roast the duck and the open-oven method was introduced. Since then this succulent duck is a traditional as well as contemporary ingredient in most of the cuisines.
Culinary Uses of Duck Meat
Duck meat is a highly versatile meat that can be easily incorporated in any recipe that calls for poultry. Duck is amazingly juicy and that makes it a much preferred meat in global cuisine. Duck legs and breasts are widely used to make several duck recipes. Roasted as well as braised ducks are famous as mainstays in various cuisines. Duck meat also popularly lends itself to soup as well as stew dishes. Rice also goes well with duck hence there are many duck dishes in the global cuisine that are prepared with rice.
Duck is often de-boned for making steaks and minced meat recipes. Whole duck is an ideal bird for stuffing and roasting purposes. In many cuisines, duck meat is often cooked with gravy. Not only duck legs and breast are popular in culinary world but the heart and kidneys of the duck are in high demand. Various exotic duck recipes include these parts. Even the liver of the bird has varied uses. It is a good alternative to goose liver. Duck dishes are quite healthy as duck meat is not fatty.
Another most important use of duck is to produce eggs. Duck eggs are fondly used to make many egg dishes that are well-liked in global cuisine.
Popular Duck Recipes
• Cantonese style roast duck with rice – It is one of the most popular duck recipes in Asian cuisine. In this dish, duck meat is roasted and cooked in gravy and served on the top of the rice.
• Confit de canard – This is a dish in which duck is first cured with salt and then marinated and cooked in fat with flavoring agents such as garlic and spices.
• Czernina – It is one of the most popular Polish duck dishes that contains duck blood. It is a kind of soup made with poultry broth as well.
• Duck a l’orange – It is a classic dish made in French cuisine. An orange sauce is poured over roasted duck to make this dish.
• Oritang – It is a well-liked Korean soup prepared with duck as well as a variety of vegetables.
• Zhangcha duck – It is a highly popular Schichuan dish. It is also popularly known as tea-smoked duck because it involves smoking of duck over camphor and tea leaves.
Cuisines Commonly Making Duck Recipes
Duck meat is regarded a delicacy in most of the cuisines. Pekin duck is widely consumed in American cuisine. It is cooked by either roasted or grilled methods. Some of the most popular American duck dishes are Turducken, Long Island roast duck and duck breast with apple honey sauce. Stuffed duck is quite popular in American cuisine.
Asian cuisine is famous for extensive use of duck meat. Roasted duck is a traditional dish in Chinese cuisine. It is often called Beijing duck and regarded a high-class food in several occasions. Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines are quite popular for making duck dishes. Bebek Betutu is a traditional dish prepared in Indonesian cuisine. In this dish, duck is marinated with flavorful herbs and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and then kept for roasting. This process allows the pungent flavor of herbs to get infused in the duck meat.
Among European cuisines, French cuisine has a long list of duck dishes. Confits with duck meat are fondly prepared in French cuisine. Pressed duck and duck with orange sauce are some of the most popular French duck recipes.
Korean and Polish cuisines also have soup dishes made with duck meat.
Preferred Methods of Making Duck Dishes
With varied culinary uses duck has several cooking methods as well. Some of the preferred methods are as follows:
• Roasted – This method is a dry cooking method that makes the skin of the duck crispier and also allows duck to be cooked uniformly. This is the most conventional method of preparing duck recipes. Duck can be either roasted as a whole or in the pieces. Duck pieces are often wrapped in banana leaves while roasting. Whole duck should be basted with oil for extra crispy skin.
• Braised – This is also a quite popular method to make duck dishes. Duck meat is first seared until brown and then cooked in liquid for few minutes in order to attain flavor of spices and sauces. This is a method that involves both dry and moist cooking.
• Grilled – Duck is usually grilled when duck steaks are to be prepared. Duck is de-boned before grilling steaks. Duck meat is often marinated before grilling to enhance the flavor.
• Poached – In various cuisines, duck is first marinated and poached in either water or in its own fat. In French cuisine, this method is popularly employed to make duck recipes.
• Brined or cured – Duck meat is often cured in salt to make confit de canard, a popular French dish also known as ‘duck confit’.
• Boiled – Duck meat is boiled with vegetables and other ingredients to make some flavorful soup dishes in various cuisines.
• Stir-fried – Duck pieces are stir fried in sauces and spices to make delectable duck dishes.
• Pan-fried – Whole duck or duck pieces are re-fried in its own fat and juices to make pan-fried duck recipes.
Nutritive Value of Duck Meat
Like other poultry birds, duck also has numerous nutritive benefits. Some of the nutritional properties and health benefits of duck consumption are as follows:
• Duck meat is an excellent source of proteins.
• Various minerals such as iron, copper, along with phosphorous and selenium are adequately present in duck meat.
• Duck also offers a balanced amount of amino acids.
• Vitamin E, A, B6 and B12 are present in generous amounts.
• Skinless duck breast is a low fat and low calorie meat.
Buying and Storing of Duck Meat
It is always recommended to buy fresh duck. Either whole duck can be purchased with all parts such as giblets, bones, liver or separate parts of duck can be obtained. It is advised to buy only 1-1 ½ pounds of duck for each person. Usually young ducks are sold commercially hence you should determine the ducklings among the ducks as both terms used interchangeably. Processed duck meat such as duck sausages and duck hot dogs are also available in the grocery stores. Another thing that should be checked while buying duck meat, is the quality grade of the meat. Grade A meat is free from cuts and bruises and is meatier.
Fresh duck can be easily stored in refrigerator with a plastic wrapping. Duck can also be frozen. Whole frozen duck can remain fresh for 10-12 months frozen duck pieces can stay fresh for not more than 8-9 months. Always freeze the duck in a proper freezer bag. Also remember that once thawed, the duck should not be kept for freezing. Leftover duck dishes can also be frozen but should be consumed within 2-3 days.
Frozen duck should be thawed in the refrigerator only in order to avoid bacteria formation.
Types of Duck Meat
There are several species of ducks that are domesticated for commercial use. Some of them are as follows:
• Pekin duck – This is the most famous variety of duck consumed in USA. This is also popularly known as ‘Long Island Duck’. This duck is specially used for its eggs and meat. Though it is highly popular in American cuisine its origin lies in China.
• Muscovy duck – This variety of duck is usually found in Mexico and Southern America. This variety of duck has been considered ‘kosher’ by few people where as a large group regarded it as ‘non kosher’. It has been domesticated since decades and has varied uses in various cuisines.
• Mulard duck – This duck is popularly known as a hybrid variety of Pekin duck and Mescovy duck. This variety is mainly developed for domestication purposes. It is highly recommended used for its meat and eggs. Female mulard ducks are used for their eggs whereas males are domesticated for ‘foie gras’. This variety produces lean meat as compared to muscovy duck. Mulards are extensively raised in Europe, South East Asia and USA.
Duck Meat Trivia
• Duck meat is darker as compared to chicken; hence duck meat is regarded red meat.
• Boiled duck eggs have reddish yolk and a bluish-colored white.
• Duck eggs are rich and fattier than chicken eggs.