Duck as an Easy and Delicious Alternative to Chicken

May 9, 2016

Duck webIt’s cute in cartoons and makes a nice sports mascot, but duck is intimidating to cook. After all, when you think of duck dishes, you think of fancy and difficult sounding things like Peking Duck, Duck a l’Orange, Duck a la Presse, or Magret du Canard.

I’m here to tell you duck doesn’t have to scare you. I’m not a chef, but I love to cook, and I’ve recently discovered that duck can be a simple and delicious change of pace, particularly if you’re used to cooking chicken.

“Just like chicken!”

Now that I have your attention, duck actually tastes nothing like chicken, but it does have plenty in common with traditional poultry. For starters, many of your favourite chicken recipes can be repurposed using duck instead, and the cooking methods are also very similar.

Priced right

The first thing I’ll share about cooking duck is to pick a quality bird. You can get duck frozen, or even by the piece, but my obsession lately has been for Co-op Perfect Duck. It’s not expensive; in fact, a whole duck is actually quite comparable in price to a whole chicken.

duckfilet webWhat does it taste like?

Perfect Duck comes fresh, as well as frozen, and it’s plump, meaty, juicy and delicious. Duck’s flavour is more complex and stronger than chicken. That’s probably because chicken is definitely the mildest and blandest of meats, but some people do say duck’s flavour is like a cross between chicken and turkey.

Duck has significantly more fat than chicken, so it’s juicer, but that’s also where it gets a lot of its rich flavour, and of course the meat is darker all through the bird, not just in the legs.

Cooking Perfect Duck is not unlike cooking chicken

There are a couple ways you can cook duck and they’re both easy. You can roast the whole bird, as you would with a whole roast chicken, or you can cut up the bird and cook it in pieces.

Whole Duck
My favourite way to cook a whole duck is to rub it with oil and spices, stuff an orange inside the cavity. I make sure to sit it on a rack in a roasting pan, because there’s a lot of fat in a duck, and you’ll want to let it drip off. Set it to roast and serve it with a nice sauce on the side. Simple, but delicious.

Pull leftovers off the carcass, and shred them for use later in pasta recipes, salads, or even (oh yes!) tacos.

duckleg webDuck Pieces
Duck can be butchered at home in exactly the same way you’d take apart a chicken. One great advantage of cutting the duck into pieces is that it separates into two perfect meals for two, or four meals for one.
Once cut up, you can sear or roast the breasts, or slice them up and sauté them to toss with pasta. The legs can be roasted just as they are, or you can shred the delicious dark meat over salads.

Duck.. simplified?

Now, have I oversimplified duck? Possibly. You can read endless blogs and watch celebrity chefs opine over the best ways to cook duck absolutely perfectly, or why it should be served rare. But you can also watch those same chefs and blogs opine about how to make the perfect scrambled egg. My point is, while you can strive for perfection, you can also just have fun experimenting with new foods.

- Erin L

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