Those ducks have sat in my freezer since then. They terrified me. I could hear them laughing at me, quacking sinisterly, every time I opened up my freezer. They even got other cuts of meat to laugh at me: the full packer brisket, the bag of 5 pig tongues that I got for a steal, and the sack of 30 chicken feet. It is pretty sad when even your freezer contents disrespect you. I thought about giving the frozen ducks to my neighbor, who is a hunter and afraid of nothing. But that would have been too humiliating.
I eventually took my revenge on the packer, the chicken feet, and even the pig tongues. But the ducks continued their reign of terror in the freezer. Until now.
So, my post: 2 ducks, 2 days, too intense! Buckle your seatbelts, kids!
Here's the plan:
Day 1 -
break down ducks
make stock with carcasses
start curing 2 breasts for prosciutto
dry brine the legs and thighs to confit on Day 2
Day 2 -
confit legs and thighs in the rendered fat
make 2 seared breasts in cherry port sauce for dinner
The bulk of the work will be done over this weekend. On Monday I'll need to hang the prosciutto to air dry. The confit is best if it ages in the refrigerator for a bit, so sometime in the next few weeks I'll use the duck confit and the stock to make duck confit risotto and duck & pumpkin ravioli. I'll update this post over the next few weeks as I go along.
Getting ready to break down the ducks.
Here are the parts I wanted: 4 breasts with skin left on, 4 leg/thigh parts with skin left on, and the tenderloins which I stripped off the breasts.
Duck carcasses for stock, mostly trimmed of fat and skin.
I covered the carcasses with water, brought it to a boil, skimmed off the scum, then lowered the heat. Added peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, an onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple of stalks of celery. Simmered 6 hours. Poured the stock through a sieve. Here is the stock ready to be used or thrown in the freezer.
Here is the fat and skin ready to render down in an ovenproof casserole dish.
I put it in the oven uncovered at 300 deg F with a small amount of water. As the fat rendered off and the water evaporated, I gradually lowered the heat down to 250 deg F. After 3 hours, the cracklings were golden brown, so I removed it from the oven.
Scooped the cracklings out onto a paper towel-lined plate, and seasoned with salt. Snacks!
Filtered the rendered fat through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
And let it cool. Will reserve this fat for confitting the legs and thighs.
Here is the cure mixture for the duck breasts. I got this duck prosciutto recipe from "Sportsman's Notebook", which my fearless hunter neighbor gave me a year ago. After I finish making this recipe, I will no longer have to cross the street and avoid eye contact when I see him coming. I look forward to that.
Per this recipe, for each skin-on duck breast use 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup kosher salt, 6 crushed juniper berries, 1 Tbsp ground white pepper, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional). You basically follow the salt box method of curing.
The cure mixture.
Put half the salt mix on a large piece of saran wrap.
Lay the breast on top of the salt mix.
Cover with the remaining mix, then wrap the saran wrap around the breast tightly.
Refrigerate for two days, flipping occasionally.
Here are the leg and thigh pieces, with the legs frenched. They are "dry brined" with some aromatics a day before confitting to enhance the flavor. I used a recipe by Emeril Lagasse for the duck confit. Lay the 4 leg/thigh pieces with the skin down. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp ground pepper and 1 Tbsp kosher salt.
Place 2 bay leaves, some crushed garlic, and some thyme sprigs over 2 of the pieces.
Then sandwich meat side to meat side with the other 2 pieces. Sprinkle with another 1/8 tsp of kosher salt. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
Dinner tonight used up the tenderloins. I sauteed shredded brussel sprouts in duck fat with a little duck stock. Added some duck cracklings for good ducky measure. Quickly seared the tenderloins. Served with some baked yam that I browned in the duck fat.
That is it for Duck Post Day 1. Tomorrow I'll be confitting the legs and thighs, and will sear the 2 remaining duck breasts and serve with a cherry sauce for dinner.
Thank you for reading, and hope you can stick it out with me over the next few weeks as I add to this post!