Not sure how to cook duck? We’ve got you.
The meat on these birds is so rich, flavorful, and robust that it toes the line between poultry and beef. Lean duck breasts—particularly those of magrets de canard, the prized fowl raised for
foie gras—can go head to head with the finest steaks, especially when seared to a crisp and rosy medium-rare. Duck legs, on the other hand, require a little more than time and their own fat to be transformed into tender and silky confit.
With a melting point well below human body temperature,
duck fat makes a seductive substitute for butter and shortening in bread and pastry. It’s also the penultimate medium for frying potatoes, yielding vastly superior pommes frites. And the bird’s organ meats find their way into rarefied charcuterie products like pâté and mousse.
particularly Gascony) is famed for its elegant use of the waterfowl, and you’ll discover a number of French duck recipes here, among them Chef Dominique Ansel’s amazing three-day . But we’ve included duck dishes from China ( cassoulet Sichuan tea-smoked duck), Mexico ( duck ), and Thailand ( carnitas tacos red curry with roasted duck), too. Whether you’re after easy duck recipes or a serious culinary challenge, duck appetizers or duck entrees (even duck desserts!), one of our best duck recipes should fit the bill (heh, heh). Rich, fatty duck gets a double dose of sweetness from port wine and jammy figs. Get the recipe for Roast Duck with Figs » Skillet-Cooked Duck Breast with Beets and Watercress The earthiness of beets pairs well with duck, which chef Gavin Kaysen likes to grill, but a skillet works just as well at home. The black rice is an incredible dish simply on its own. Get the recipe for Skillet-Cooked Duck Breast with Beets and Watercress » Pâté is a labor of love, but it's worth every step, especially when you bake it in flaky homemade pastry dough and top it with a flavorful gelée. Here, being careful to keep the ingredients cold during the process, and taking the same care when folding and filling the dough, yields a pâté that everyone will write home about. Get the recipe for Duck Pâté en Croûte » Birch Syrup and Soy Sauce-Glazed Roast Duck Amy Thielen's take on traditional teriyaki uses a bit of birch syrup in addition to mirin (sweet rice wine). Compared with maple syrup, birch is more feral—darker, less sweet, and more acidic—and she prefers it for cooking. It also doesn't hurt that she can harvest it at home: Every spring she taps the silver birch trees in her yard and boils down the syrup over a wood fire. You can find birch syrup online, or use maple. (If doing so, omit the teaspoon of sugar.) Get the recipe for Birch Syrup and Soy Sauce-Glazed Roast Duck » Dominique Ansel’s Cassoulet Made with confit duck legs, pork belly, and two kinds of sausage, this meaty, resplendently rich cassoulet is worth treasuring all winter. Get the recipe for Dominique Ansel's Cassoulet » Duck-Fat Shortbread Cookies Duck fat doesn't behave exactly like butter—it's nearly liquid at room temperature and, like lard or shortening, contains no extra water, which minimizes gluten development when it's added to pastry doughs. But there is a magic substitution that works in most simple baked goods like shortbread cookies, breakfast cakes, and biscuits. Replace 50 percent of the butter in a classic recipe with duck fat (or less if you prefer just a touch of the gamy flavor). Get the recipe for Duck-Fat Shortbread Cookies » Tacos de Carnitas de Pato (Braised Duck Tacos) Slowly braised duck infused with the aroma of Mexican cinnamon and orange is shredded and pan-fried until crisp in this recipe from chef Roberto Santibanez. Get the recipe for Tacos de Carnitas de Pato » This stew uses rendered duck fat in the roux instead of butter and quartered ducks in lieu of the classic chicken. Get the recipe for Duck and Andouille Gumbo » Fire-Roasted Duck and Pheasant with Red Currant Jelly Fred Morin and Dave McMillan of Joe Beef in Montreal cook a mix of birds over flames and embers, using hooks and chains to suspend and rotate them (different-size birds will cook at different speeds). "The spin, the way the fat drips down, all combines to make a wonderfully burnished bird," says McMillan. Ambitious home cooks can hang birds using twine or wire over a backyard fire, or simply roast birds on a rack set in a roasting pan in the (indoor) oven. Get the recipe for Fire-Roasted Duck and Pheasant with Red Currant Jelly » Duck Borscht with Fermented Tomato Sauce This soup combines a whole duck, beet greens, and cabbage in a fizzy fermented tomato sauce—a wonderful alternative when fresh tomatoes aren't in season. Get the recipe for Duck Borscht with Fermented Tomato Sauce » Hearty Vegetable Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage (Garbure Gasconne) Traveling through the lower reaches of Gascony, you will be offered a steaming bowl of garbure to begin almost every lunch and dinner. Warming, hearty, and satisfying with large chunks of sweet winter roots, cabbages, and onion, garbure is the way the French balance the heavier meat and starch courses inevitably to follow. Locals here typically enrich the broth by stirring it with a leg of duck confit, then adding the shredded meat at the end, or with the addition of a few chunks of ham. Or both: I loved a version I was served in a cafe in Salies-de-Béarn with a crispy garnish of thinly sliced Jambon de Bayonne on top. Get the recipe for Hearty Vegetable Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage (Garbure Gasconne) » Gascon Sourdough Cornbread (Pain de Méture) Corn is prevalent in Gascony, France, where it's used to feed the region's famous foie gras ducks. It's also the star of this pain de méture, a Gascon cornbread made with sourdough and baked in a cast iron pan. This cabbage-leaf-lined version from New York-based baker Kamel Saci was tested by Saveur contributor Kate Hill, a cook and cooking instructor in the region, who loves the crispy bits of cabbage that sear around the bread's edges. Get the recipe for Gascon Sourdough Cornbread (Pain de Méture) » Gascon-Style Duck Confit (Confit de Canard) Confit, from the French verb confire, to preserve, is a traditional means of cooking meat slowly in its own fat. Although you may not have access to a whole foie gras duck for rendering, you can create a deeply flavorful confit with good-quality duck pieces and rendered fat bought from a trusted butcher. Adjust the salt and cooking time to reflect the size of the duck parts, using an amount of coarse sea salt equal to 3 percent of the duck legs' weight to cure them—about 1 tablespoon of salt per pound. Get the recipe for Gascon-Style Duck Confit (Confit de Canard) » Roast Duck with Shallots and Concord Grapes I borrowed this method and these ingredients from a classic chicken recipe often made during the wine harvest with big bunches of red wine grapes. As the bird steams and braises in a terra-cotta roaster or Dutch oven, it releases its own fat and juices that make a rich sauce with the roasted grapes and shallots. Because it's made in one pot and results in tender, juicy meat every time, this is a perfect duck dish for beginners. Choose the darkest, plumpest grapes you can find such as Concord or muscat. Serve with crusty bread, la cruchade, or creamy potato purée. Get the recipe for Roast Duck with Shallots and Concord Grapes » Gascon Duck-Fat Polenta with Duck-Skin Fritons (La Cruchade) Gascony's love affair with corn dates back to the 15th century, when it was introduced from the New World by Christopher Columbus and his Basque crew shortly after their return to Spain. Corn thrived in a narrow belt along the 45th parallel, which bisects the heart of southwestern France. Old Gascon recipes still rely on cornmeal for desserts like millassou, which is baked and topped with sugar or honey; and for cruchade, a starchy, savory underpinning for duck or other meats. The polenta-like porridge is often enriched with caramelized fat drippings from making confit. Left to cool completely, cruchade can be cut into thick strips for frying, but since I'm an impatient cook, I ladle a soft, golden pudding-like version onto a serving platter and garnish with fritons, crisped bits of duck skin. Get the recipe for Gascon Duck-Fat Polenta with Duck-Skin Fritons (La Cruchade) » Escarole with Confit Duck Gizzards, Comté, and Walnuts Winemakers Alice and Olivier de Moor use confit duck gizzards in this simple winter salad, but confit duck legs make a fine substitute. Get the recipe for Escarole with Confit Duck Gizzards, Comté, and Walnuts » Duck Liver Mousse with Cipolline Onions and Mushrooms In this creamy, refined version of liver and onions, from Toronto's The Black Hoof restaurant, ethereal duck liver mousse pairs with caramelized cipolline onions and mushrooms. Get the recipe for Duck Liver Mousse with Cipolline Onions and Mushrooms » Traditionally prepared with a whole duck, this updated stir-fry lends duck breasts a gentle, caramelized smokiness. Get the recipe for Sichuan Tea-Smoked Duck » Bebek Betutu (Balinese Roast Duck) In Bali, this aromatic chile and garlic stuffed duck is wrapped in coconut tree bark and steamed. We found it bakes beautifully rubbed in coconut oil and covered in aluminum foil. Get the recipe for Bebek Betutu (Balinese Roast Duck) » The recipe for this classic French dish is based on one in James Peterson's Glorious French Food. Get the recipe for Duck a l'Orange » Duck legs are dry-brined and braised in an aromatic stock, then shredded and mixed with armagnac and spices and sealed into a serving dish with duck fat, making a delectable spread for a toasted baguette. Get the recipe for Duck Rillettes » Tomatoes Stuffed with Foie Gras, Duck Confit, and Chanterelles (Tomates Farcies) Foie gras, chanterelles, and black truffle juice combine to make a particularly luxurious filling for tomatoes. Get the recipe for Tomatoes Stuffed with Foie Gras, Duck Confit, and Chanterelles (Tomates Farcies) » Thai Red Curry with Roasted Duck For the best results when you're making this sweet and spicy dish, ask the counterperson at your local Chinese market to cut the roasted duck into pieces. We recommend using the Mae Ploy brand of canned coconut milk; its high fat content makes for a rich and luxurious curry. Get the recipe for Thai Red Curry with Roasted Duck » Bistro Pommes Frites (Bistro French Fries) The secret to these stellar bistro fries? Duck fat, a superior frying medium that gives the potatoes a deep, meaty flavor. Get the recipe for Bistro Pommes Frites (Bistro French Fries) »