Video: All About Duck

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 29, 2010

We roasted two ducks for Christmas dinner this year.   As luck would have it, I was able to source them for the fantastic price of only $3.10/lb.   For such a gourmet dinner choice, they turned out less expensive than the local chickens I buy!

Duck is a much fattier bird than turkey or chicken.    One great benefit of roasting a fatty bird like duck or goose is that you can cook it at a higher temperature, so the meal is ready faster, yet there is little risk of dried out meat.

We baste our duck while it is cooking in honey water.    This glazes the meat beautifully and results in the most out of this world crispy duck skin you’ve ever tasted.

There is much less meat to be had on a duck versus a turkey, but you get a ton of duck fat in return.   I save this wonderfully healthy, nutritious, tasty fat in a glass container in the fridge and use it for weeks later to season roast vegetables.     My children never turn down vegetables roasted in duck fat.    They are simply too delicious to resist (even more tasty than veggies cooked in butter if that is possible)!

Duck also happens to make the most delectable stock.    In this video, I discuss tips for roasting a duck and making duck stock in your own kitchen.

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

* This post is shared at Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter!

 

Comments (58)

  1. Can I also use the bones that we chewed the meat from? Just not sure if our saliva would contaminate the stock.

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  2. I love your videos – they’re so informative! I make both chicken and beef stock all the time. I usually freeze my stock in muffin tins then transfer the frozen blocks to a larger container. I find this gives me the flexibility of using small or large quantities. Again thanks for the great post and video!

    Reply
    • Can I also use the bones that we chewed the meat off from? Just not sure if our saliva would contaminate the stock.

      Reply
  3. I love this vid. My 12 year old loves duck and the rest of us really like it as well. We have not bought it often in the past and I have yet to source it through a really high quality operation, although I have been trying. I’m sure eventually the local Weston Price group in my area will meet again and I will get a chance to join up and get involved. But since they went from last June up until the night we had nutcracker tickets this year with nothing I have to be patient. Hopefully either they will pan out as a resource or I will find some new idea to help get myself a duck. Luckily I did source a great goose for this Christmas so will have goose grease soon! :)

    Have you ever cooked muscovy duck? The farmer I am getting the goose from also raises Muscovies, but since I understand they are far less fatty than other ducks I decided to try his goose and keep looking for duck sources at other farms.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

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  4. Love your site. We have our first 10 ducks going to the butcher on Oct. 10th – Can’t wait to taste them (although they are a little cute…) We’re blessed to be able to have our food in our ‘back yard’ on this little farm. Next year we’re adding chickens and a dairy goat!
    I will be looking on here many times as we enjoy them…thanks!!

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  5. A friend is giving me a duck to butcher today. I have butchered chickens many times, but this will be my first duck. Not easy to do. I LOVE ducks! But this poor thing is crippled and needs to be culled. I watched your video here again this morning and feel encouraged. Thanks, Sarah!
    Yolanda\’s last post: How to make tender Baked Beans

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  6. I cannot even begin to thank you for the wealth of information you have been giving me in your video classes. At the start of 2012 I resolved to get my husband and myself healthy. I am more concerned with nutritionally verses most resolving to loose weight as I know the only way to keep weight off is to change my lifestyle. So on that side note thank you for all your amazing information.

    I do however have a question I noticed that you didn’t mention anything about canning stock and was wondering why. Is it better for us to freeze our stock over canning it?

    Thank you;
    Denielle

    Reply
  7. Hiya Sarah,

    I can never get my water to stay at a slow simmer after I cover it. I put the flame so low that you can barely see it. If I have to leave it for 24 hours I worry it might evaporate from boiling. And please please please put your stock pot on the back burner for safety :-)

    Ps- Your videos are so much easier to understand than reading them in Nourishing Traditions. And did your husband retire from show biz? I’m sure he has something else up his sleeve besides gravy. I liked that video because I was always intimidated by gravy.

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  8. I made a duck tonight and it was so good. It was hard to carve and I didn’t know if that is typical though. I am making duck broth now and following your instructions. The broth has started to boil and I have found no scum on it whatsoever. I don’t know if I just didn’t do it right or I have an amazingly clean bird. Have you ever had that happen? I can’t wait to try the stock. What do you use the duck stock for and do you have recipes posted for it?

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  9. I just wanted to mention that here in the south of France people generally stuff their bird with more meat! Often it’s porc (the mixture they put in sausages), the bird’s inners and mushrooms occationnaly chesnuts. I was lucky to have a great turkey for Christmas eve and a heavenly goose for Christmas. I made stock from both of these birds afterward and there was no scum at all but I didn’t add any vinegar, could that be why?
    I’ve diligently kept the fat but I am looking for more uses for it. In my fridge I’ve got turkey, duck, goose and porc fat waiting to be used. I’m open to all sugestions!
    PS: I have no idea why one would let the bones sit in the water before starting the cooking process but I’ll ask around!
    alwayshungry\’s last post: La Cocada do Lucia

    Reply
    • I’ve asked around and I got two answers conserning why the french start making broth with cold water:
      - to avoid the spintering of the bones due to a thermal shock
      - when making broth from raw meat, they soak the bird first to rid it of bood, the water is discarded and fresh water is added to make the broth . It then make a clearer broth but unfortunetly without the nutriments found in the blood.
      alwayshungry\’s last post: La Cocada do Lucia

      Reply
  10. Sarah,
    Thank you for the video. My husband is an avid hunter and I end up with 10+ ducks/geese a year in my freeze. Sadly, until this video I never gave it a thought to save the whole duck (typically he would debone and toss bones) for stock! I just told him when the season starts I would like a few whole ducks!

    Thanks again

    Reply
  11. Hey Sarah,
    Great post! Duck is amazing. My wife works for another local farm where they use ducks in their rice, the same way we use livestock in our orchards. The ducks eat the bugs, weeds, provide fertilizer, and aerate the water as they paddle around. It’s common practice to raise ducks on rice in Asia but this is the only farmer we know of that does it in the U.S. The meat is amazing! I love duck and it’s by far the best duck I’ve ever had. Alice Waters at Chez Panisse put in an order to try to buy everything he can produce.
    http://massaorganics.blogspot.com/2009/09/integrated-riceduck-farming-part-i.html

    Reply
  12. Hey I love your blog, its truly one of the best out there! Can u or have u done a post on how u would sautee up some veggies in duck fat? That would be great and u could tie it in with this post. Do u also save the congealed fat from chicken stock after cooling? I find myself stuck in limbo about whether to leave it in the stock or skim it for other uses.

    I think another great post would be to break down the diff types of fat and their best uses in the kitchen. Lard in pie crust, tallow for french fries, etc. I made some fantastic butternut squash fries recently in the beef tallow I had left over from my beef stock.

    One thing I thought to add is either an ice “bath” in the sink or simply a cold water dip for a few minutes to get your stock to a manageable temperature rather quickly. 10 minutes surrounded by ice water will cool down even a 7 ply stockpot….(my dream piece, btw!) Which reminds me, when am I going to see a Demeyere stockpot giveaway on here? :) the John Pawson line would be a good start…

    Especially in warmer climates where the room temps can be steady in the 80s at times, leaving the stock out for hours to cool may be a potential breeding ground for nasties to set up shop. I also find this ice bath technique useful for making yogurt and cooling the milk quickly while I wait to inoculate the batch with the yogurt starter.

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  13. Saveur magazine had an article last month about French bistro food. It seemed like they use duck fat in everything! Their bistro french fried potatoes recipe at the end of the article called for duck fat to deep fry the potatoes. The sources in the back said you could buy duck fat by the quart – but it was like $20 a quart and you needed 2 quarts for the fries!
    Making your own duck, making stock and rendering the fat seems like a super-economical way to get some fabulous food stuffs!

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  14. I sure wish I could find a $3/lb source for duck.
    My co-op has ducks from Mary’s Chicken for $4.50/lb.

    I also usually break down the duck. Take the breasts and legs. Cook them separately. Remove the skin and fat and render (We fight over the cracklin’). Then I break the bones up for stock. I try to expose as much of the marrow as I can to get a good stock.

    If you have a Northern California source for $3/lb Duck, I’d love to hear about it.

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  15. I loved this video! I’ve been meaning to cook a duck for the longest time, and I think this has finally inspired me to actually do it. I have 2 questions:
    1. Does the honey water that you use for basting affect the flavor of the rendered fat? I have to admit that the rendered duck fat is the main reason I want to cook a duck in the first place, so I don’t want to do anything that will negatively impact the taste or the ease of rendering.
    2. Two gallons seems like a huge amount of stock to get from 2 duck carcasses! I usually get about 1-1.5 quarts of stock for each small roasted chicken carcass that I use. Do ducks make more stock because they are more flavorful?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Sarah H., I did not find the honey water (2 parts water, 1 part honey) to affect the fat at all. you don’t have to use a lot .. just enough to glaze the skin and keep it from drying out. I did end up getting 2 gallons of stock from those ducks. The ducks were 4.5 lbs each which is about the same size as the local chickens I get and they each make 1 gallon of stock each unless I boil it down a bit and then it is less. It all depends on how much water you use to begin with and whether or not you choose to boil it down to a more concentrated stock to save space in the freezer.

      Reply
  16. Hi, Sarah! When I make chicken or turkey stock, I always pour my juices and fat that run off during the roasting process into my stock pot for extra flavor. It sounds like there would be too much fat if I did this with a duck or a goose. Do you just refrigerate your juices and fat that run off during the roasting process in order to solidify the fat so that you can skim it off the top easily, or do you have another trick to separating out your fat?

    I’ve had a duck sitting in my freezer for nearly a year … I think it’s time to roast that bad boy!

    Reply
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  18. Very informative video, thanks.

    I am going to email the local WAPF chaper leader to see if there’s any sources in the area. I’d love to try duck sometime.

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  19. I buy only the day’s bones form the only organic butcher here in Barcelona, Spain. The beef is grass-fed in the Pyrenees. Because of time, I never roast them. They foam a lot. Now, in Nourishing Traditions, under “Beef Stock” (pg. 122) , Sally Fallon explains that a “large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon.” Somewhere else I can’t find, Sally has explained that the scum or foam is removed because it contains proteins that give odd flavors to the stock. I have never read anything deeper on the subject than that. All recipe books instruct you to remove the scum. Where can I read more on the link between the amount of scum and the quality of the bones?

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    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Isaac, I don’t remember where I read this but I have just noticed this over the years using different quality bone sources. For example, an industrialized chicken from the grocery store will produce so much foam and smell that it is disgusting. An organic chicken from the healthfood store will produce less. My local chickens produce very little. Same with beef bones. From a grassfed source, beef bones will produce little foam in my experience whereas ones from a standard butcher will produce a lot of foam. Off flavors are in fact impurities and the more impurities, the less quality the source. If you don’t roast your bones first, I think that would contribute to the great amount of foam as well.

      Reply
  20. We had goose for Christmas dinner and I just made stock from the goose on Monday. I wish I would have seen your video first though! The recipe I found for goose stock didn’t mention the vinegar. It also only said to simmer uncovered for 4-6 hours. Oh well, at least I still have homemade stock! Next time I’ll know.

    Reply
  21. With raw beef bones, I soak them in cold water for a while, then drain them, before starting the stock. Even if you have an excellent source, residual blood in the bones can make the stock foam more, and you’ll get a better flavor if you soak the bones in cold water.

    Reply
      • Sarah,
        Yes, I do that too. I forgot! But I often soak them in cold water first, dry them off, and then roast the bones and start the stock. I figure if the water looks a little bloody, then I am glad to have done that step.

        Reply
        • What’s wrong with blood? Isn’t blood one of those WAP super foods? In France and Spain “civets” are wild game stews to which the blood and liver of the animal are added. And all over Europe blood sausages have been eaten for millennia. Is there a reason blood is bad in stock? Sally Fallon recommends using “meaty” bones. Inevitably there is going to be blood in the stock.

          Reply
    • I just made a batch of venison stock (wild deer harversted during hunting season here in PA) I used fresh, meaty bones and I got a good deal of scum (blood). I will try the roasting/soaking next time to see if that reduces the scum. I figure the source can’t be any more organic or natural then fresh-harvested venison! :-)

      Reply
  22. Hi Sarah,
    Regarding your comment on the foam… does it also apply to beef? I go to the market every week to get bones for my stock. I choose to go to the only organic meat store in that market. However, my bones make quite a bit of foam. Should I not trust the seller, or perhaps your comment doesn’t apply to beef?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      A lot of foam is indicative of not the cleanest of sources. You might want to try another supplier. Store bones are never as good as what you can get direct from a farmer in my experience, organic or not.

      Reply
  23. I’ve never had duck before and now I want to try it! I’ve always heard it was very greasy but I suppose it would be to people who are used to dry chicken breasts, lol! This looks very good and thank you for sharing!
    Carla\’s last post: Salisbury Steak

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  24. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the informative video. I have a sort of a dumb question.
    I make chicken stock regularly from bones I buy from the butcher (can’t get them for free). I have seen here and elsewhere people talking about roasting a chicken and using the bones for stock, however, when I roast chicken, I serve pieces of chicken with the bones. Once the bones have been on someone’s plate (and possibly in someone’s mouth) I’m not going to use them for stock. How did you end up with the that duck skeleton? How did you serve the duck? How can I do this for chicken?
    Now that I’ve seen your video, I’m going to have a look to see if I can find duck in my vicinity.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Ruth, if the bones have been in someone’s mouth you can still add it to the stock as the stock will be at a low boil for hours so any bacteria would be eliminated. For the duck, we sliced it onto a plate and served it at the table that way although our kids enjoy getting an entire duck leg on their plate.

      Reply
      • As chance would have it, my local supermarket had duck available for the first time and I got a whole one. I plan to make it on Friday, possibly with stuffing. Any advice on how best to roast it and, as someone asked below, maybe you could do a post on how you roast vegetables in duck fat.
        Thanks!

        Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
          Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

          Hi Ruth, keep in mind that you can’t stuff a duck with anything except fruit .. bread stuffing turns to mush from all the fat that comes off it when it is roasting.

          Reply
          • Thanks for the advice. I actually had been planning of stuffing it with a rice based stuffing. In the end I stuffed it with mushrooms and leeks and fresh thyme. It came out great. Thanks for the help.

    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Paula, contact your local WAPF Chapter Leader for his/her local sources list.
      westonaprice.org/chapters

      Reply
  25. Hi Sarah,
    Your duck looks wonderful! Do you have a local source? I would have to get mine at the store. Even if it’s organic I’m not sure of the quality. Do you think it would be ok at Whole Foods? And I’m still learning about the plastic. I better go check mine.

    Reply

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