It is Hard to Think of Eating Ernie’s Favorite Little Animal, Especially if They are The Big Frenchy Ducks
Big Frenchy Ducks? Oui, Oui! Another French paradox in the land of ducks. The English may call Frenchies “Froggies”, but the new favorite meat for the French is magret de canard , or duck breast. While the French adults are battling the bulge, the French canards, (ducks) are putting on fat. As my son could describe with better ease than me, many of the ducks raised on French farms in our small region of the world are force-fed, called le gavage. Yet this hasn’t stopped the French from awarding magret de canard as the new favorite food of the French. Duck breast has moved up to the top of the list, receiving 21% of votes from a recent poll. The former favorite, a veal stew, called blanquette de veau, has moved down to number 4. Here in the South West corner of France duck breast is easy to obtain and it is a bargain in the supermarket. Have you ever seen a real authentic piece of magret de canard from South West France? If you haven’t you may be surprised by its appearance. It has a thick yellow layer of fat (about 1/4 inch thick or 1/2 centimeter) on top of the dark pink meat. The fat is thick because the ducks here in the region by tradition are force-fed, le gavage, in order to produce fatty livers, the famous foie gras. This force feeding adds a thick layer of fat on the duck breasts.
When we first moved here, as a nutritionist and dietitian, it was more sensible or nutritionally “correct” for me to cut off the fatty top layer off the breast meat before cooking. However, after several attempts to cook the duck meat sans gras (without fat) caused a loss of flavor and the meat tasted tough. What to do, what to do…? In the end, the right compromise for us was to cook the meat with the fat and then cut off the fatty layer to serve at the table. For guests the fat stays on and the guest can decide whether they want to eat this part of the meat or not.
Magret de canard is a nice meat to enjoy, especially with a honey, garlic, cinnamon and sherry vinegar sauce poured on top. Normally this duck meat is served with roasted potatoes and a vegetable. What is your favorite way to cook duck breast? Any secret sauces you would like to share with us? Mmmm…. Duck meat is a versatile and delicious option to substitute for other meats you might normally eat. Is it available in your area? Do you enjoy other parts of the duck?
Here are some webpages to better discover this duck breast. Oui, magret de canard, our duck breast that is very well-known in our small corner of the world:
SOS Cuisine on a recipe for Duck Breast with Honey and Spices
Food Network Emeril Lagasse Pan Roasted Duck Breast
Gordon Ramsay on how to cook Duck Breast
Until next time, Bon Appetit Amis