|A Pekin duck. It is believed that Donald Duck was modeled after a Pekin, as is the AFLAC mascot. Photo courtesy Marin Winter | Wikimedia Commons.
A Glossary Of Duck Types & Preparations
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Duck Breeds & Preparations
In addition to White Pekin ducks, Muscovy, Moulard and Mallard ducks are also marketed in the United States. Different duck breeds are kind for different products.
The most popular breed in the United States is White Pekin or “Long Island duckling.” This is what is typically used for “roast duck” at most restaurants, and found in supermarkets. America has other favorite eating ducks and duck parts. Many begin with an “M”—no wonder it’s confusing! Here’s a basic “duck glossary” to help you master the choices.
By the way, duck is an all “dark meat” bird; it has no white meat.
|BARBARY or BARBARIE DUCK
The British term for .
Confit is the French word for “preserved.” Confit de canard, or confit of duck, is a duck leg that has been cured, partly or fully, in salt, and then marinated and poached in duck fat, seasoned with garlic and other herbs. This rich, and not very cardio-friendly dish is very popular among lovers of duck.
CONFIT: Think leg cooked in duck fat.
|Maple Leaf Farm’s confit de canard, in a classic preparation with heirloom beans.
Foie gras, or “fat liver, ” is a specially fattened and rich liver created by a process called gavage: overfeeding ducks with corn so that their liver grows to four times its normal size. (This technique was developed by the ancient Egyptians.) The result is richer, more buttery and delicate than a regular liver. Historically, this practice was done with geese, but the far more gentle ducks are used today (geese can be quite aggressive and bite their handlers), typically the variety. Foie gras can be served as a hot dish or at room temperature, whole or in a pâté (terrine) or mousse. It is a delicacy, and costlier than other parts of the duck. Animal rights activists deplore gavage as animal brutality, due to the force feeding procedure and possible health consequences to the duck or goose of an enlarged liver.
|Terrine of foie gras from MackenzieLtd.com.
To others, this argument seems moot, as the bird is raised for slaughter and not longevity; and ducks and geese have long gullets that can accept a feeding tube without pain (think of a pelican swallowing a fish). In fact, visits to a duck farm that produces foie gras will show the ducks (which are free-range) waiting for their human feeder each day, and quacking in anticipation of their meal.
FOIE GRAS: Think liver, whole or in pâté.
LONG ISLAND DUCK or DUCKLING
Another term for the white Pekin duck.
Magret is the breast of the Moulard duck (see below). The breast is larger than any other duck breast, and to appreciate its nuances, it must be cooked even rarer than Pekin duck. If you like your meat medium or well done, forget magret: according to our Wine Editor and consulting chef Kris Prasad, “a medium or well-done magret will be tough as shoe leather.” Enjoy this large duck breast in rare slices!
MAGRET: Think breast, served rare
|Take a gander at this gorgeous Pekin breast. If you don’t want to cook it yourself, Maple Leaf Farms offers sliced, cooked duck breast with three different seasonings.
The Mallard is probably the most familiar breed of duck. It’s the duck with the emerald green head and white collar, and is the ancestor of almost all domestic ducks. If your friend shot the duck you’re eating, ask if it’s a mallard. (Farm raised mallards are available on a limited basis.) The Mallard is the breed from which all domestic ducks, except the Muscovy, are descended. It is smaller and tougher than the Pekin. While the breed has very little fat, it can taste greasy and gamey.
MALLARD: Think duck shot by a hunter.
|Illustration of a male mallard duck, courtesy Tim Knight.
A moulard is a sterile hybrid of the male Pekin and the female Muscovy, and is bred for breast meat and foie gras. The Moulard is larger than the Pekin and has a stronger, gamier taste; it is also considerably fattier. The meat can be stringy and chewy, so the breed is primarily raised for its liver for foie gras; and for its breast, which shows well when cooked rare. Moulard ducks comprise 1% to 2% of domestic duck consumption.
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay