Rich, melt-in-your-mouth meat and crispy skin, duck is a meat that’s full of flavour and nutrition, but how often do we buy and cook it? Not often enough, reckons Farmdrop Recipe Developer, Alice King. Here she shares her favourite duck recipes along with advice on how to cook with it using our new-in, pasture-raised birds from Sladesdown Farm in Devon.
This pan-fried duck and bean stew recipe is pure comfort. Photography: Natalé Towell
Rich, full of flavour and succulent, duck is a nutritious and versatile meat. Duck is often used in Asian cooking; strong spices work well with its rich, gamey flavour as do the sweetness of fruits, such as oranges, plums and berries. Try duck tossed through an orange or cherry salad, roast it and serve with a plum sauce, eat it as part of Asian-style pancakes with sliced crunchy veg and hoisin sauce, cook it into a ragu or stir it into a risotto. Duck is a naturally fatty meat so a little goes a long way.
How to cook duck
Duck breast is best cooked pan-fried or roasted in the oven. It’s a fatty piece of meat, so it’s best to render down the fat and crisp it up as much as possible. Scoring the fat before cooking achieves the best results as it allows the fat to melt evenly. To cook the duck breast, place it skin-side down in a dry pan on a medium heat for 10 minutes to allow the fat to melt slowly and crisp up, then finish it in the oven to cook through. Leave it to rest for a few minutes so the juices run back into the meat to make it extra juicy.
Crispy duck leg salad with hoisin sauce has all the flavours of classic crispy aromatic duck in a fresh and zingy salad.
Duck legs are most commonly known for making the popular French dish, confit duck, but there are simpler (and just as tasty) ways to cook them. Try this Chinese five-spice duck salad recipe, which involves cooking duck legs in the oven at a low temperature for a couple of hours. This might seem like a long time compared to chicken, but this will ensure tender meat and will give the fat has time to melt away completely and for the skin to crisp up. You can also slow cook duck legs in a casserole or curry.
Whole duck benefits from being roasted whole in the oven. The high fat content will keep the meat nice and moist, and the skin will crisp up during cooking – perfect paired with fresh Asian flavours for a summery roast.
Try this Roasted spiced duck recipe with crunchy Asian slaw for a summery Sunday roast.
Pasture-raised, slow-grown ducks always taste best
As a new addition to the Farmdrop cohort of independent, local farmers, we’re super excited to have Devon’s Sladesdown Farm ducks on the shop. Daniel and Elaine run this 40-acre family farm in an area of outstanding beauty, just south of Exeter. They originally started rearing turkeys for Christmas and now have their own breeding flock of heritage Pekin ducks, which live in small flocks of two hundred. They forage on grasses and herbs across Sladesdown Farm’s pastures; “we believe a natural habitat and diet makes these ducks taste even better”, says Daniel.
Our meat buyer, Jaks Pemberton says; “It’s tricky to source truly free-range, pasture-raised duck. Sladesdown is run by a young couple who breed all their ducks on the farm rather than buying them as day-old chicks. They raise them on their pastures, and they are all killed on site in there tiny abattoir”. Unlike most supermarket practices, Sladesdown ducks are wax-plucked and game-hung for seven days to develop their flavour and texture.
Taste them for yourself. Get your hands on Sladesdown Farm’s pasture-raised duck at farmdrop.com.