Today I bought two ducks and I made a bunch of stuff. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of some of the process. I just decided that this was going to be too large of a Facebook post so here goes:
This is a picture of duck skin floating in a simmering slurry of duck fat and water. Ugh, but in a few hours this will become cracklings. Try and remove as much of the protein as possible as it cooks by gently scraping the underside of the skin.
Eventually you'll get some liquid gold which looks like this:
2) Duck Stock
The process is simple. Roast bones in the oven until nice and brown. Paint a layer of tomato paste over the bones and put them back in the oven until the tomato paste turns a nice purple hue. Then remove everything and put it in a pot. Defat first and then deglaze the roasting pan with water or wine and scrape everything (the fond) off the bottom of the pan. Then dump this all into the same pot as the bones. Add your essential aromatics. Essential meaning carrots, onions, celery. Anything else is a bonus. Parsley, whole black peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, whole cloves, mushroom stems, onion peelings, garlic. Use your judgement. No jalapenos. Cover everything with water and simmer for at least four hours.
3) Duck Confit
The best part of the duck. Duck legs, cured overnight, cooked sous vide at 180F for eight hours. This is Thomas Keller's recommendation and I've used it a few times now. I'll keep using it until someone can give me a better time/temp recommendation. Until then this does it for me. I'll save this in the fridge until I want to eat it at which point I'll put it on a rack in the oven and crisp it up. Yep more crackly duck skin.
4) Duck Liver Pate
The livers on these ducks aren't the big fat pink creamy type many are used to seeing. In fact, these are just a tiny bit bigger than chicken livers. Perfect for a ramekin full of liver pate. Saute livers, deglaze. Saute onions, blend with butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Great with a little white toast.
5) Duck Breast
These things aren't those huge ones you see on French restaurant ducks. I've sauteed these the normal way before and they've turned out a little bit tough. I'm tinkering with the idea of using sous vide for a long time on these. It will be an experiment, and being that someone is coming over for dinner tomorrow night it is bound to fail. We'll see how it goes. I'll let you all know. The questions I have for myself are 1) Quick or long sous vide until mid rare? 2) To score the breast before or after sous vide cooking? 3) Season now or season later?