Choose the perfect duck
Ducks, or ducklings as they are also referred, should be no more than six months old and weigh 1.5 to 3.5 kilograms providing a tender rich meat for cooking. Ducks most suitable for broiling or frying are classified as “broilers” or “fryers” when they are no older than 8 weeks. Ducks that are 8 to 16 weeks old have gained more fat and are then classified as “roasters” which are most suitable for roasting or cooking with a rotisserie grill. The meat of a duck is all dark meat, providing a distinctively hearty flavour that may be rich tasting, depending on the method and procedures for preparation.
Commercially available ducks (domesticated) are graded as Grade A, B, or C. Grade A and Grade B ducks can be found in food stores and markets, with Grade A being the best grade containing the most meat. Ducks considered as Grade C ducks are traditionally sold to food processors for use in commercial products.
When selecting a whole duck, choose those with tender and meaty breasts covered with firm skin that is not noticeably wrinkled. Since many ducks are frozen, it becomes difficult to depress the flesh, but most can be checked for round, plump features. Duck parts are also available and can generally be purchased as hindquarters or breasts. Hindquarters consist of leg and thigh meat that can be grilled, roasted, slow-cooked, or pan fried for best results. Duck breasts consist of a boneless piece of meat that may be skinned or skinless that can be prepared similar to chicken breasts, by roasting, searing, sautéing, slow-cooking with other ingredients. Ducks typically contain a large amount of fat in relation to meat, which can be carved away before cooking. Additional fat will drip from the duck as it roasts and may cause some smoking, so it is best to consider the best way to roast duck meat before the excess fat burns. When necessary, the excess fat can be siphoned off to assist with the smoking problems. Some prefer to render the fat from the skin prior to roasting, so the duck is crispier and also makes it leaner. When comparing the meat yield to a chicken, there is much less meat on a duck than a chicken of comparable weight. A duck weighing 3 to 3.5 kilograms will most often serve 4 people.
Store fresh ducks in a refrigerator for no more than 3 days for the best flavour. Remove any giblets or stuffing if placed in the cavity of the duck, prior to being refrigerated.