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Fort on Duck
There are wild ducks (teal, mallard, widgeon), which are shot between 1st September and 31st January. These have highly distinctive flavours, densely textured meat and very little fat. And then there are domesticated ducks (Aylesbury, Barbary aka Muscovy, Rouennais, Goosnargh, Challans, Gressingham among dozens of breeds). In fact, most of these breeds are offshoots of mallard/Pekin Duck crosses.
The Pekin duck, the familiar farmyard duck with white feathers and yellow beak and feet, and long appreciated by the Chinese for their plumpness and tenderness of the breast meat, was introduced into the UK in 1870, and transformed our native duck production. There are variations in flavour and texture, fat to meat ratios and the like. However, these differences may be more evident to the breeders than they are to the consumers. Husbandry, feed, age at slaughter, hanging and plucking method (dry or wet; dry is better but labour intensive and therefore expensive) probably have a greater say in the quality of the final product than anything else.
Article written by Matthew Fort
What Duck Goes With
Duck a l’orange or duck with hoisin sauce are great, but to limit duck to a few well-worn dishes would be to underestimate a brilliantly diverse meat.
Duck has a succulence which lends itself well to sweeter flavours, like apple, cherries or roasted butternut squash, for example. It can also work well with umami tastes like mushrooms, or even other meats – as shown by the Matthew Tomkinson recipe which pairs the bird with pork belly and ceps.
Or you can just roast it and serve it simply with the traditional trimmings, plus roast potatoes are always heavenly when roasted in duck fat.