The Best Ways to Eat Duck

We’ve got a thing for duck … and love all the tasty parts. If you feel the same way, read on to learn how each of the cuts can be eaten – from foie gras and duck breast to duck charcuterie of all kinds. These days nose-to-tail eating is all the rage and has become a badge of honor among chefs and a DIY challenge to home cooks. At D’Artagnan the nose-to-tail concept is not new. The motto “Everything but the Quack” could have appeared in the company logo.

Our charcuterie line is based on traditional recipes that Ariane learned in her native Southwest France. Below are some suggestions of what can be made from the entire duck carcass. Or just shop our duck and foie gras products, and save yourself the work.

What to Make with Duck Drumsticks & Thighs

Hefty duck legs are best when cooked low and slow to break down the flavorful meat.

  • Duck rillettes. Duck meat is chopped, salted and then simmered in an aromatic stock until the meat naturally shreds and falls off the bones. Cooled with enough fat to form a paste; used as a spread on bread or toast, served at room temperature.
  • Duck leg confit. Whole legs are cured in salt and spices then slowly cooked in duck fat.

Duck Leg Confit - Plated

What to Make with Duck Breasts and Wings

The duck breast is the most common part of the duck, and most likely to be encountered at a restaurant. It’s easy to get the same results at home with seared duck breast when you really heat your pan.

  • Fresh magret. Fresh, raw duck breast can be seared like a steak and served rare with a pan sauce.
  • Duck prosciutto. Cure duck breasts in salt and herbs, then hang to slowly dry, while constantly brushing with olive oil.
  • Smoked duck breast. Seasoned only with salt and cracked pepper, hot smoke duck breasts slowly over hickory chips.
Duck Wings NYT Emon Hassan
Chef Justin Smillie’s D’Artagnan duck wings at Upland, as seen in the NY Times.

What to Make with Duck Skin

The best part of the duck is the skin, as it renders the gift of duck fat. Without the skin, duck is actually a very lean meat.

  • Rendered duck fat. The “butter” (but better) of Gascony can be used to cook everything: eggs, vegetables, wild mushrooms, potatoes, meat, and even a dessert, the pastis Gascon.
  • Duck cracklings. This is what’s left when you render fat. These crispy bits of fried skin are delicious when salted and eaten straight out of the pan; they are only good when freshly made.

What to Make with Duck Giblets

  • Gizzards. Delicious when confited and then sliced warm in salads.
  • Heart. Skewered with cèpes (porcini) and grilled, they are the fast food of Gascony.
  • “White olives” or “white kidneys.” Found only in male ducks, they are seared in duck fat for maximum flavor, also can be skewered as the hearts.

What to Make with Duck Tenders

  • Duck tenders come from the duck breast and are little filets easily removed by hand. Sear or grill them quickly. Glaze with balsamic or make a pan sauce to accompany. Bread duck tenders and fry them like chicken nuggets.
  • Brochettes: roll a single duck tender with a strip of zucchini cut lengthwise and skewer along with a cherry tomato, then grill quickly. Alternately, wrap a duck tender around a chunk apricot or peach before grilling.

What to Make with Duck Bones

Don’t waste those bones after roasting a whole duck! Save them to make stock, or demi-glace like we do.

Demi-glace. Rich dark and concentrated stock. Bones give it the collagen necessary for gelatinous texture, and the 3 days of cooking time naturally concentrates flavor.

The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, Maine.  How to make a lobster roll

What to Make with Foie Gras

  • Raw foie gras. These enlarged, fatty duck livers weigh 1 to 2 pounds, and can be sliced and seared, or prepared as a terrine or torchon. Foie gras is a versatile ingredient which is revered in gastronomy the world over.
  • Terrine of foie gras. The purist preparation of foie gras; the entire liver is cooked at low temperature in a terrine mold with a minimum of ingredients: salt, pepper, Sauternes wine. Served cold.
  • Medallion of foie gras. Creamy foie gras mousse enhanced with black truffles. An elegant hors d’oeuvre spread on baguette slices.

cranberry foie hi res 1

How many of these duck dishes have you tried? Tell us about your favorites!

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Ash Pohl says:

    I make chinese New Years red cooked duck. I hang it from the fridge grate 2 or more days, aiming a clip on fan at it, drip pan underneath. The fridge doir closes over the cord. I then put lemons in the cavity, cut, and baste the duck with a hoisen, soy, anise, garlic sauce, orange peel. Hang from the upper oven rack so it will clear the floor, new drip pan. I either make stock, soup from carcass, or, run thru the sausage stuffer for the drippings. Works just like a duck press but 11.99 as opposed to 2895.00

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      That’s what we call dedication! Sounds like a fun project and a delicious meal…

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