Ask Peter: Using a duck carcass
I recently cooked a whole duck (thanks to Josh Emett’s Master Match) and would love it if you could give me a nice idea of something to make using the carcass. You really only use the breasts and legs but there is still a lot of meat clinging to the bones. Oh and while you’re at it — maybe an idea for what to do with the rest of the jar of morello cherries that made the sauce for the duck.
I love a whole roast duck. It is one of those meats that people shy away from cooking at home as it’s seen to be a little too left-field, yet it’s not so different from cooking a whole chicken. However, apart from the difference in flavour, and red meat v. white, there is always the question of carving it that seems to put people off. The reality is that you need to cook it pink and rest it for a good 15 minutes in a warm place before cutting the legs away from the carcass, and then carving the breasts off in two whole orbs. Once removed, they can then be sliced, as I find it’s too hard to slice breast meat directly off the carcass.
Once you’ve removed the meaty bits you will be wondering what to do with the rest of the carcass. As meat-to-bone ratio, a duck will offer less edible protein than a chook, so while one chicken of average size could feed four people, a duck will really just serve two to three. The fact you’ll in all likelihood have roasted the duck means it’s ready to be turned into a delicious stock.
If, like me, you’ve cooked it resting on a bed of onions, garlic and herbs, and possibly even a few star anise and some sliced ginger, then once you’ve removed the main meaty bits (two breasts and two legs), pull off any remaining flesh and set aside. Chop or cut (cleaver or heavy duty scissors) the carcass into a few pieces and place in a pot along with the leg bones and pan-roasted veges. Top with a can of chopped tomatoes and enough water to cover it by 1cm, bring almost to a boil and then reduce the heat. Ducks are fatty and plenty of this will rise to the surface, so once you’ve got it gently simmering, start skimming (I always keep a tablespoon which I add back to the finished stock as it tastes so good). As soon as all the fat has been removed, add a small handful of extra fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons soy sauce or miso paste and cook uncovered for an hour.
Turn the heat off and leave to settle for 10 minutes, then strain into a clean pot and taste for seasoning, adding soy sauce or miso paste to taste. Add 3⁄4 cup thinly sliced spring onions, 8 sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, 1 dessertspoon finely chopped ginger and the reserved duck meat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Ladle into four bowls in which you’ve placed some cooked rice or noodles and dollop on a little of the reserved duck fat.
As to what to do with the rest of the cherries, make a clafoutis. Heavily butter and sugar a dish wide enough to hold the cherries in one layer. Whisk 50g self-raising flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt and a few drops almond essence. Beat in 280ml warm milk and 20g melted butter (or try a citrus scented olive oil). Pour this into the dish, scatter the drained cherries on top, bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until just set, and still a little wobbly. Leave to cool then serve with runny cream.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to email@example.com and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.