When you’re stuck in a cooking rut, the best thing to do is try out a new ingredient. Picking out a fun protein or an uncommon vegetable can open up a whole new world of flavor combinations and cooking techniques. If your kitchen is suffering from chicken fatigue, may we suggest a piece of duck? Mastering how to cook duck at home will reignite your passion for cooking and make you feel like the chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant.
How to Cook Duck Breast
Duck breasts are easy to cook at home, and work well with sweet or tangy sauces. For best results, start low and slow. Sauté the breast skin side down over low heat so the fat melts out of the skin. Giving the fat time to render will ensure a crispy final product. One trick that takes it to the next level is scoring the skin before you begin. Use a paring knife to make ¼ inch cuts in the duck skin without piercing the meat, and then continue with the searing process.
Duck breasts are also delicious on the grill, but be sure to render the skin in a pan first. This will help the skin cook all the way though, and help you avoid flare ups when fat drips out on the grill.
How to Cook Duck Legs
Whether braising or roasting, a low slow temperature is the best way to get tender meat. Duck legs are done when the internal temperature reaches 180° F. Try duck legs in a rich and satisfying homemade cassoulet.
How to Cook Duck Whole
If you’re in the mood for a project, locate a whole duck at a local butcher or specialty grocery store. When roasting a whole duck in the oven, the fat will render out slowly and evenly. For skin that’s crispy all over, elevate the duck on a rack in a roasting dish. This will allow the fat to drain away, and won’t leave the duck sitting in a puddle of its own juices. For easy clean up, line your roasting dish with aluminum foil, but whatever you do, don’t throw away that fat.
Cooking with Duck Fat
We can’t say it enough: fat is not a dirty word. The layer of fat undereath duck skin is a huge part of what makes this protein so special. It adds rich flavor to the meat, and, when rendered out, is a delicious way to flavor roasted vegetables or even french fries. You can buy rendered duck fat at specialty grocery stores. If you’re cooking duck at home, reserve the fat that renders out of the skin and use it like you would any other cooking oil.
Get started cooking duck at home with this Blue Apron Premum recipe.