Cooking is more than the preparation of food. Cooking is a passion, a celebration of taste, the study of how ingredients come together to ignite the senses. Cooking is the mastery of techniques, the art of integrating the sciences, and a reinvention of cuisine.
Join us to celebrate the ingredients that allow us to create brilliant dishes to delight and inspire. “The Study Of” culinary series features an in-depth exploration of ingredients with the chefs of the Destination Culinary Collection. Each quarter, we’ll unveil a new gastronomic topic for our chefs to examine through cooking demonstrations, educational lectures, innovative recipes or sumptuous tastings.
Explore the featured ingredient below, and dine at our participating restaurants to personally sample our expertise. Bon appetite!
Now let's explore the culinary benefits and history of Duck and learn what makes it a great key ingredient and the best methods for preparing a hearty, delicious meal. Duck is an excellent source of protein and minerals, including iron, copper, phosphorous and selenium. Duck meat also offers a balanced amount of amino acids, vitamin E, A, B6 and B12. Skinless duck breast is a low fat and low calorie cut of meat. Legs and breasts are widely used in recipes, as well as duck liver and duck fat.
Duck was domesticated more than 3,000 years ago in China during Yunan dynasty and the Earlier Han Dynasty. During this time, duck meat began to increasingly replace the goose meat in Chinese meals, due to its highly versatile nature to be incorporated into any recipe.
The White Pekin duck, native to China, is a relative newcomer to America. In 1873, a Yankee Clipper ship crossed the Pacific with fewer than a dozen of them, marking the beginning of America's domestic duck industry. Duck dishes are still the pride of Chinese cuisine, after centuries of ritual practices to perfect them. Roasted and braised ducks are now famous mainstays in various cuisines and cultures around the world.
The most common duck breeds marketed and available in the United States are White Pekin ducks, Muscovy, Moulard and Mallard. Most commonly sold is the Pekin duck, also known as Long Island Duck. With so many options available, it is important to understand the breeds to determine what works best for different recipes.
In recipes prepared by Executive Chef Alex Reyes, he uses Muscovy duck which has some of the highest yield available when compared to other breeds. His preparation is a classic French method for the duck, A L Orange. Food historians tell us the practice of pairing of citrus fruits with fatty meat is thousands of years old, likely originating in the Middle East. Examples are found in many cultures and cuisines. The acid in the fruit counteracts the fat in the meat, making the dish more enjoyable and digestible. For Duck A L Orange its roots are French and though a very popular dish worldwide there is no clear information on the origin of the recipe in France. The earliest French recipes we find combining ducks and oranges were published in the 19th century.
To make the most of this versatile bird, seek out the breed that suits the dish you're preparing.
• For dishes in which various duck parts are cooked separately, consider a mild, meaty Pekin duck. Often labeled Long Island duckling, Pekin is available in supermarkets, inexpensive, and easy to work with.
• Native to South America and leaner than Pekin, the deeply flavored Muscovy duck takes well to roasting or stewing.
• And last, but not least, the large Moulard, a cross between Muscovy and Pekin, is often fed grain to fatten its liver for foie gras. It is prized as well for its rich flesh, a result of that diet.
As a Chef working in many kitchens with numerous products ranging from average to high end, Duck has always maintained a high quality standard. As far as I can remember, I was always intrigued and excited in the possibilities of working with duck and enjoying a perfectly seared, crispy medium rare duck breast, or duck legs that have been cured and slowly braised in duck fat.
When buying a duck it should have a long, large, flat breast and should between six and seven pounds to feed four people. The versatility, flavor profiles and applications for many types of ducks and duck eggs are a great addition to a chef's catalog of recipes.
Preparing Peking Duck
Peking Duck has been a renowned focus in the dining world for centuries on end, inclusive in fine dining cuisine across the globe. Although less-popular in the western world, the Far East has become the adopted capital of the tasty dish. The well-known Peking Duck dish created such frenzy to the lacquered, fatty water fowl, that it is what most people relate to when hearing of the savory meat.
To properly prepare such a rich meat, you must first bring the rich flavor and bold after taste to life. In doing so, the meat must be cleaned and bathed quickly in rice wine, molasses, soy, and ginger. This will cause the skin to tighten to proper condition. Many place hoisen, ginger, star anise, and orange peel in the cavity for aromatics. The last bath the duck gets in is a hot honey and wine bath to make its rich glossy lacquer finish. After being hung in a cool, dry place for 24 hours a fan can be used to allow the duck to dry and crisp for roasting or open fire cooking. The essentials for this process is that the skin is very dry. Some also use forced air under the skin, will make the drying process faster and also the skin much crispier. After the cooking process is finished allow the meat to hang while warm and present on a platter with julienne leeks or zucchini, carrots, fermented bean paste, or hoisen sauce. Serve with rice flour pancakes. The breasts are a good way to start, by slicing the top and sides with one long slice, then make small cross breast slices down the bird. Place a small slice on a plate and make your pancake.
From the Chef:
The reason why I wanted to do present duck is that I'm a Duck hunter myself and find the waterfowl bird to be a beautiful tasty creature. There is nothing like bringing home a fresh game duck and preparing it for my family. It's from the wild. The versatility and applications for many types of ducks, and duck eggs are a great addition to a chef's catalog of recipes. Weather, grilled, seared, slow-roasted, or sous vide, the rich gamey flavor comes through every time.
We hope you enjoy our recipes and find the excitement as I do when preparing this ingredient and hope you adapt duck to some of your favorite dishes. Enjoy!
This method is a dry cooking method that makes the skin of the duck crispier and also allows duck to be cooked uniformly. This is the most conventional method of preparing duck recipes. Duck can be either roasted as a whole or in the pieces. Whole duck should be basted with oil for extra crispy skin.
This is also a quite popular method to make duck dishes. Duck meat is first seared until brown and then cooked in liquid for a few minutes in order to attain flavor of spices and sauces. This is a method that involves both dry and moist cooking.
Duck is usually grilled when duck steaks are to be prepared. Duck breast is de-boned before grilling. Duck meat is often marinated before grilling to enhance the flavor.
Duck Breast or Foie Gras which is a fattened duck liver are usually cut into steak portions and seared. This cooking process in a pan or skillet is best when the desired outcome is rendered and crispy skin.
In various cuisines, duck is first marinated and poached in either water or in its own fat. In French cuisine, this method is popularly employed to make duck recipes.
Duck meat is often cured in salt to make confit de canard, a popular French dish also known as ‘duck confit'.
Duck meat is boiled with vegetables and other ingredients to make some flavorful soup dishes in various cuisines.