Turkey, duck and goose


Duck and goose are traditionally not South African favourites, but they are starting to make regular appearances on restaurant menus. Turkey is of course a firm favourite at Christmas. 







Consumers should be made aware by butchers and deli operators that, properly prepared, these meats are tasty, healthy, and present many cooking and serving opportunities.



Turkeys, traditionally eaten as the main course of Christmas feasts in much of the world, is eaten year-round and forms a regular part of many diets. The birds are sold whole, sliced, ground, and processed (turkey ham).


Almost all of the meat is dark, and sometimes a turkey is brined before roasting to enhance flavour and moisture content, which is necessary because the dark meat requires a higher temperature to denature all of the myoglobin pigment. Brining makes it possible to fully cook the dark meat without drying out the white breast meat.


Without careful preparation, cooked turkey is usually considered to be less moist than other poultry meats such as chicken or duck, and is baked or roasted in an oven for several hours. In some areas, particularly the American South, they are also deep fried in hot oil (often peanut oil) for 30 to 45 minutes by using a turkey fryer.


The white meat of turkey is generally considered healthier than dark meat because of its lower fat content, but the nutritional differences are small.



Nutritious and wholesome, duck is easy to prepare and growing in popularity. Albeit classified as poultry, duck is not a white meat such as chicken or turkey, but a red meat. This means that a well-prepared duck breast is akin to steak and is slightly pink in the centre. It is nevertheless low in saturated fat and very lean.



Goose meat is darker (including the breast), fuller bodied, and more intensely flavoured than turkey, and has a hint of gaminess. Of all fowl, goose meat offers the most opportunities to match with wine.


Most people associate Christmas goose with Victorian England, where, during the 19th century, geese were served at an older age than those of today – up to nine months as opposed to four to six months. Older birds are tough and the meat must be tenderised through marinating before cooking.


Goose contains a high proportion of fat and must be properly cooked to provide eating pleasure. One can either blanch goose for a few minutes and prick the skin to release the fat or roast for four hours at 125ºC in a convection oven, or start roasting at 235ºC for 15 minutes and reduce the heat to 180ºC until done. Naturally the bird must be basted frequently to prevent drying.


Unlike turkey, roast goose can be served without a sauce, as the meat is moist, but can be further enhanced with chutney made using grape juice, apples, pears, figs, walnuts and hazelnuts.


For centuries goose fat has been hailed as tasty and texturally rich. The French are famous for their cassoulet using goose fat, beans and vegetable, but more eminent now is confit of goose or duck. “Confit” means “cooked in its own fat”. If properly done a confit of goose or duck is crisp, rich and rewarding.


Turkey, duck and goose take well to a seasoned mix of vegetables, starches and eggs cooked within the body cavity of the animal. Some stuffings utilise other meats such as sausage (especially popular in Italian dishes) or oysters in their mix. Vegetarian stuffings usually contain tofu (and are not cooked within an animal), but overall most dressings are based on bread or potatoes.


There are so many recipes and variations on recipes it would be impossible to mention them all, but basic bread stuffing is probably the best known. It utilises bread cubes, beaten eggs, butter, finely chopped onions, chopped celery, salt, pepper, ground sage, poultry seasoning and chicken broth.


Stuffing ingredients such as nuts (chestnuts, walnuts and pecan nuts), dried fruit (resins, figs or prunes marinated in Armagnac, Cognac or rum) and fresh fruit (apples and oranges) are also popular. They are used in conjunction with finely chopped shallots, freshly ground white pepper and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme and marjoram.


Local suppliers of duck include The Duck Father SA, The Duck Lady and Food Boys


Food Boys are highly regarded in the food service industry, providing products of superior quality at wholesale prices to the public, five star hotels, airlines and caterers. Based in Johannesburg’s Strydom Park, the company has over the years been involved with exports through agencies dealing with countries within Africa and are looking to export abroad.

Products include whole duck, duck breast, smoked duck breast, whole turkey, turkey breast, turkey breast roll cranberry, and turkey roast roll.

The Duck Lady, situated in Shongweni Valley in KwaZulu-Natal, offers chilled and frozen whole ducks; breast, leg and wing portions; duck pie and paté; spring rolls; terrine; duck livers; duck confit; duck l’orange; and stuffed duck.

Also on offer are White Peking Duck – the world leader in taste and popularity – and seasonal specialities such as “Turducken” (deboned turkey stuffed with deboned duck and chicken, and stuffing).


The Duck Father SA – Where the best free range duck is found, The healthiest choice for all South African’s. Our grain fed, hormone and anti-biotic free ducks, produces the best duck meat in South Africa.




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