UP YOUR SUPPER GAME BY TREATING YOURSELF TO A CRISPY ROAST DUCK
Now that you’ve been spending more quality time in the kitchen, expanding your abilities by baking bread or trying new recipes, it might be time to add a little flair to your poultry repertoire, too. This is where cooking duck can make a surprising impact on dinnertime.
“Duck is a lot like chicken, in the sense that it is just as versatile,” says chef Carolyn Reid from Toronto’s Scaramouche Restaurant. “And you can cook it almost as many ways as you can chicken — whole, the duck legs or a duck breast — just as easily as you can any other bird.
“You can do a beautiful slow- and low-roasted duck for three or four hours at about 120-150oC (250-300oC),” Reid says. “That will render out the fat and leave it really crispy, with soft, almost shreddable meat. With a duck breast, you can sear it skin-side down in a pan on medium or medium-low heat. Again, you’ll get really crispy skin and, ideally, a rare duck breast.” And my favourite thing of all is that you can confit the legs.”
Like any chef, Reid is a champion of cooking food for yourself, as opposed to buying processed food. “Making your own meal is naturally way better for you than buying something pre-made or processed,” she says. “People have shied away from duck because they think it’s fatty. But while it has more fat in the skin than chicken —which in my mind is the nice thing about it — the meat is absolutely just as lean as chicken.” She adds that though fat gets a bad rap, it plays a huge part in portion control, its richness helping you feel full sooner.
MAKE DUCK A HOLIDAY ALTERNATIVE
Because duck does tend to be more expensive than chicken, it can be seen by some as a treat to be savoured on special occasions, most often when a turkey is perhaps too big for the number of people around the table. But really, you can — and should — enjoy duck any day of the week. Find out more at kingcoleducks.com
Chef Carolyn Reid’s Duck Confit will yield delicious results in your home kitchen.
Scaramouche’s Duck Confit
5 lbs Duck legs, approximately 8 pcs
2 oz. kosher salt (2.5% of total weight)
2 large shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsle
2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
1 crumbled bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Fresh duck fat
Photo: John Cullen
Toss all ingredients, except the fat, together, cover and leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Remove the legs from the marinade and rinse under cold running water briefly, pat dry.
Set your oven to 300F.
Melt the fat and slip the legs in, making sure they are completely under the fat.
Bring the fat to 190 degrees and place in the oven.
Maintain the fat at 190 degrees (this may require adjusting your oven temperature) and cook legs until very tender. The easiest way to test this is to insert a wooden skewer into the joint of the legs. When they are done this will offer no resistance and pull out very easily.
Remove from heat, leave to cool for 1 hour. Lift legs out, cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying.
Return fat to the heat and bring to almost a boil, skim for 5 to 10 minutes or until splattering stops.
Cool and strain and then pour over legs to cover completely to ensure they are not in contact with the air.