I bought a whole duck at Buford Highway Farmer’s market. Whole, as in, the duck’s head and feet were still attached and its tongue was hanging out of its mouth. It cost $15.
I’ve had never purchased a whole duck, but I proceeded to break it down similar to a chicken. I cut off the head and feet. Then I popped the thigh joint out and cut the thigh/leg away from the body. Then I stood it up and cut down the breast bone to remove breast meat, one side at a time. I made sure to leave the fat on the breasts, then I wrapped them and froze them.
You can see in the photo that only one thigh/leg has fat on it. I planned on making confit with those, and call me stupid but I wasn’t actually sure if I should leave the fat on the thighs when doing confit. I could have easily looked it up, but I have a friend/cooking mentor who talks about experimenting in the kitchen and learning on your own versus reading about it. You get to see with your own eyes why something does or does not work. So I went with one with fat, one without. The rest of the fat on the duck went to rendering fat, which is the picture below.
I strained the fat through cheese cloth, and was left with roughly six ounces of rendered fat. It wasn’t enough to cover the duck for confit, so I used olive oil for the remaining quantity needed. I cooked it in the oven at 190F for 6-7 hours.
The rest of the duck went into a stock, which I slowly simmered and skimmed occasionally for four hours. Once it was about a quart of water, I thrice strained it, then put it back into a sauce pan and simmered it for over an hour, until it was reduced into a demi-glace, maybe 1/4 cup in volume.
I used a tablespoon of the stock to make a quick sauce for some marrow beans, which I served with the confit. The demi-glace can produce a deeply flavored pan sauce in a matter of minutes.
Next time I’ll buy a few ducks to make better use of the time involved in all of this. Doing it all for one duck isn’t really a great return, but it was a fun learning experience.