Have You Tried Roasted Duck ?
Who are 'they'? Where do 'they' say these things? Who is listening when 'they' speak? Are 'they' trustworthy?
I have no clear answers. I imagine that 'they', simply represent things we have heard in the past. I have heard, several times that Stuttgart, Arkansas is the duck hunting capital of the United States. I do not know if this is true, but I do know, that duck hunting in Stuttgart is a major event. It attracts duck hunters from throughout the nation. Stuttgart is a major producer of rice. Rice paddies are flooded. Water attracts ducks. Duck hunting rivals deer hunting in southeastern Arkansas.
Mallard or Duck?
The Mallard, is simply, a 'wild duck'. It is probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks. It is known as a 'dabbling', breeding throughout the sub tropical areas. .
The males have a bright green head, while the females have a light brown.
The mallard can fly....but usually it stays close to the ground for a short distance. It has just enough flying ability to escape natural predators such as weasels and coyotes.
Many of us have enjoyed feeding bread to the ducks in a local park. I recently had the joy of taking a 2 years old. She was delighted, until the ducks became aggressive and one wrapped her finger into its mouth. It simply scared her. There are no 'teeth' and the bite or nip is not painful. They are quiet friendly, but competitive with one another for the bread. They are not an 'attack' animal.
Duck is the common name for a number of species a family of birds, known as Anatidae. They are raised for eggs, ( superior to the chicken egg for baking) flesh and their feathers. If you have a down coat, it is filled with duck feathers. Some are kept as pets, or for show, usually associated with 4-H organizations. Almost all ducks are descended from the mallard.
If you are not familiar with 4H programs, you can learn more about them here.
Ducks were on the farm that I grew upon. They were valued for the eggs. I can not recall my Grandmother ever cooking one. Perhaps, she simply did not like the meat. Nor, do I remember what happened to the aged ones. I regret never having questioned it.
It would many years later that I cooked my first duck. It was a salesman from Louisiana who inspired me. He also introduced me to fried turkey...that is another hub.
Every Good Cook Has A Favorite Way
Like chicken, we use primarily the breasts and legs of ducks. Duck is a darker meat than chicken. The duck leg is darker than the breast, also like chicken and turkey. Because the duck is waterfowl, there is a natural layer of insulation fat between the skin and flesh.
The internal organs are also edible. This liver is sometimes substituted for the liver of geese in "foie gras".
Like most flesh, duck meat can be grilled, fried or roasted.
Roasting is the only method I have used. Duck can be hard to come by, most often, it has been a hunter who has supplied it to my family. It has been, for us, the wild duck or mallard. It did not, however come from Stuttgart! Because, it is so rare for my family to have duck, we make it a festive occasion when we do. It just happens to be, that I have a duck in the freezer. Deciding between beef tenderloin and duck on the Christmas table is going to be difficult this year. Perhaps, the other one will be for New Year's Day.
My Grandmother, said, you will spend most of the year, doing whatever you do on New Year's day. Eating, feeding family, friends and neighbors........yeah, I can go for that.
Good food, shared with good friends is cause enough for celebration.
Roasting The Duck
To my eyes, a roasted bird on the platter is attractive. It also makes use of the entire bird, and the layer of fat keeps the duck moist. Normally, there is enough fat on the duck, to trim some away and still have a juicy bird. The most common size for a ready to cook duck, is 5-6 pounds. Adjust the cooking times for a larger or smaller bird.
Select your roasting pan, and set the oven to about 400-425 degrees.
If desired remove the wing tips. Simply snip them off with a pair of kitchen shears.
Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry.
On poultry, I make a spread of butter (not margarine) salt, pepper, sage and paprika and coat the outside. Feel free to make any spice interchanges that suit the tastes of your family.
Place duck, breast side up in the pan and cook for 40 -45 minutes. You can either trim any loose neck skin or fold it under.
Remove from oven, turning duck half over, cook for another 40 -45 minutes.
Again, remove duck from oven, draining the excess liquid, turn to breast side up again, and complete the cooking for the last 45 minutes.
This will provide you with a moist duck, with a shiny, crisp skin. Let the duck sit for about 15 minutes before carving. Garnish your platter as desired and "wow" your guests.
Add your favorite sides and enjoy.
(Remember to baste your duck, if it is sitting on a wire rack, above the juices.)
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