DUCK is a treat, particularly at this time of year when we need sustenance and rich flavours for warmth and comfort.
Roasted whole, it has huge scope for exotic stuffings (add a sprinkle of healthy turmeric to spice up bread and onion stuffing). Sauces can add variety.
Breasts are delicious cooked whole and sliced before serving. Fry them slowly, skin down for 15 minutes to allow the fat to melt away.
Pour most of the fat off, turn over and add shredded vegetables, finely grated garlic and ginger and a few dessertspoons of water, cider or vegetable stock.
Place a lid on the pan and cook for a further five minutes until the vegetables are cooked. A
dd in noodles, soya sauce and sweet chill sauce and heat.
Remove the duck and slice thinly before piling on each bowl of noodles and veg. This way two breasts will serve four.
Looking around the shops, two good Irish brands dominated, but delicious Ummera smoked duck breast is available too. I was unable to find it on the shopping day.
Most brands are well distributed in supermarkets, speciality food shops and markets and are well priced.
The best warmth comes from legs, slowly cooked with lots of seasonal vegetables, including lentils, with plenty of garlic.
Cider half way up the pan is good for moisture, but wine is classic. Allow 90 minutes in a covered pan.
Skeaghanore West Cork Smoked Breast of Duck 200g €9
Already cooked, when thinly sliced, this makes an easy starter or lunch with any kind of salad greens. Lightly smoked, tasters liked the contrast between the smokiness and the oily fat.
The tasty fat can be removed and melted and used for stir-frying later. The meat can also be added to stir-fried winter vegetables, sitting the slices on top to warm up.
Widely available, the company also offers a wide range of cooked and raw duck products.
Le Canard Barbary Duck 1.534kg €20
Frozen and sold in John O’Flynn & Sons butchers, Marlboro Street, Cork, I chose this from a wide range of offerings as it was described as The Dolly Parton duck.
Barbary usually has bigger breasts and skinnier legs than Aylesbury duck, so is better value than some whole duck.
It’s best to remove the legs to use later, otherwise they will overcook.
Tasters loved the roasted, stuffed version, glad it wasn’t too ‘gamey’. It would easily feed four hungry diners. Good value for a treat.
Aldi Specially Selected Irish Crispy Duck with pancakes and sauce 450g €5.99
This Silver Hill duck needs to be heated and quite a lot of fat removed before pairing with shredded vegetables (not supplied) or salad greens.
It is used in small microwaved pancakes which can be rolled up and topped with the hoisin sauce (included).
Tasters liked the plummy sauce and the duck. The pancakes were less impressive, more like wraps and not as flavoursome.
Silver Hill Farm Two Slow Cooked Confit of Duck Legs 300g €4.49
Flavoured with garlic powder, salt and spices which are not overdone and nicely moist, the taste was not very rich and will suit those who like less gamey flavours.
A quick and easy dinner, added to stir-fried vegetables it is good added to cooked rice too.
We bought this in Dunnes Stores and spotted the same product in Lidl for €5.69, though with an extra week on the sell-by date.
On the Pig’s Back Duck Liver Paté 150g €4.50
This is an easy way to enjoy the rich flavours of duck. It’s made by French woman Isabelle Sheridan, who has been producing and selling food in Cork for 25 years.
Rich and creamy, with Port adding to the flavour, it makes an easy lunch or starter with crunchy baguette or sourdough and salad.
As well as its outlets in the English Market and Douglas, this is also available in some SuperValus.
Silver Hill Duck Breast Fillets 350g €5
These two raw breasts are reasonably priced and widely available.
They make a good, quick supper. Fry them as outlined in the above introduction.
They can also be roasted with vegetables. Not very gamey, they can take a lot of spicing.
Try sprinkling the skin with ground star anise and salt. Some of the tasters liked the mild flavour.
Marks & Spencer Duck Breast Roast 500g €9
For those who don’t want the trouble of making stuffing, this has a pork and apricot, gluten-free one.
Easily serving three, there is less waste than in a whole duck, and all of the meat is usable.
With 40-50 minutes cooking, add large cubes of potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut squash from the start. Another easy supper treat.
Maughanasilly Organic Farm Duck Legs 580g €6.99
From a farm in Kealkill, Bantry, these large duck legs are organic and free range, and are quite muscular.
They need long cooking — allow half and hour more for the stew mentioned in the introduction, which is worth it for the full, multi-layered flavour which was hard to beat.
Tasters loved it. Order from Yvon O’Flynn 027-66111 and she will deliver to Bandon Saturday market.
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