Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Duck "Two Ways" - The Sum of the Parts are Greater than the Whole

Cooking duck is surprisingly easy if you give up on the idea of cooking it whole. Sure that whole duck a l'orange looks nice on the magazine cover (except for that damn curly parsley), and your cookbooks are filled with seemingly simple roast duck recipes, but if you follow the technique shown here, you'll be enjoying duck at it's absolute best.

In the kitchen, a duck's breast and leg could not be more different. The legs need long, slow cooking to tenderize the succulent meat, while the breasts beg to be quickly pan-seared to a juicy pink. If you roast the duck whole, the best you can hope for is one of the two pieces to be okay, but usually what you get is a too-done breast and under-cooked leg.

By the way, the sauce you'll see in the clip is a Black Currant and Balsamic Gastrique, and you can see how to make that recipe here.

I did this video for About.com a long time ago, but it just recently aired. I'll remind you again that I'm no longer able to embed my videos from their site here (also no podcast) - so when you click the video player below, you'll be taken to another window where the video will begin. You'll also get the ingredients and a complete transcript. Enjoy!


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,
Is it safe to eat duck breast when it is slightly pink?

Chef John said...

yes. i would be dead.

Asian Malaysian said...

What did you do with the reserved duck breast skin? I thought that the idea was that duck breast skin with its relatively thick layer of fat should insulate the duck breast from overcooking. I like the idea of detaching most of the skin from the breast for some added insulation but doing away with the skin entirely? Isnt that a fowl?

Chef John said...

This video was done with the novice home cook in mind. The breasts are very easy to cook skinless, and actually are trickier with the skin and fat. Believe me, I didnt throw it away! it was cut in strips, fried crisp and used on a salad.

Anonymous said...

Chef! SKINLESS duck breast? WHY!

Chef John said...

I just answered that! This was an About.com assignment - u get 3 min. max so it has to be quick and easy. I leave it on, but you have to cook the skin side longer and the other side less. tough to explain without the time. I would have left on for FW video. But, still delicious and plenty of fat and skin on the leg!

Anonymous said...

Duck looks great... but to be honest, the long movie trailer at the beginning kinda sucked. I know you're just tryin' to do your thing, and you do it well, but the ads make you a bit more inaccessible.

Chef John said...

It's an About.com video. I have no control over the ads they run. You read about being taken off the site, and that I can't embed those videos right?

blogagog said...

Looks fantastic! As a side-note, you don't want to throw out that duck skin that you separated from the breast. You can cook it alone at ~250F for 5 hours or throw it into your smoker if you have one, or 30 minutes in your saute pan with the heat at its lowest.

Whichever way you choose, you'll end up with a crispy delight that adds to the presentation value of the dish. As if being served duck wasn't enough :).

blogagog said...

Oops. I just read the comments and see that you don't toss the skin in the trash. I'd never thought of deep-frying the skin. Now I can't wait to get a duck!

Jack said...

Chef John--

Thanks for all the great posts; you've brought a great deal of joy into my culinary life. I was wondering, could you cook chicken thighs and legs the same way you cooked those duck legs? They looked particularly delicious.

Thanks!

Chef John said...

sure, but duck legs are much fattier so they get really crisp

Anonymous said...

love your videos!

Steve said...

I hope you saved that duck fat, I think it's one of the most flavorful things in the culinary world. Adding it to salad is especially nice.

Kevin D said...

Chef -

About how long should I cook each side of the duck breast if I leave the skin on? I know it's slightly more skin side, slightly less other side, but I'm not familiar with how much more/less. An estimate is more than good enough, I'm sure I can make it happen with a rough guess. Thanks in advance!

Chef John said...

i dont think ive ever timed it. maybe 6 minutes on the skin and 4 on the other?

Anonymous said...

thats a beautiful plate dude

smalinee said...

My hubby loves duck. I made this dish using boysenberry preserve. it was great. the duck brests were crispy outside and tender inside.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John! I was wondering, do you recommend crispy skin-on duck over the skinless, or are they both just as tasty? I thought it might have more flavor with the skin and the fat...

Chef John said...

It's always better with the fat and skin, but if you read the above comments I explain.

Anonymous said...

Great video, great process.Thanks! Separated meat and seasoned the day before. Rendered unused duck fat/skin in a covered dish in the oven. A 5.5 lb duck provided about 1/2 pint of clear fat. Used just a little for frying the breasts and to season some egg noodles with dish. Plenty of beautiful fat remaining to fry a hash brown potatoes and other dishes. Thanks again!!!!!

Midori said...

i have a question can you road the whole duck like this? meaning covered with alumni foil the whole duck or just cover the train and roast it? or do i have to cut it in many peaces @_@ and do separate cooking for each? cause i want to just roast the whole duck please help!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but too complicated to explain in a comment! I'd do a search for "how to cook a whole duck" and get a recipe or video, as we haven't posted one yet.