ong before refrigeration and the convenience of the grocery store, when people slaughtered animals they used every part of the carcass. Many traditional foods were born of this necessity and recipes and methods of preservation, including confit, curing and smoking, were invented to keep meat in the larder all winter. These methods all fall in the category of charcuterie, which also refers to pâtès, terrines and mousses. Today this philosophy is called nose-to-tail eating and has become a badge of honor among chefs and a DIY challenge to home cooks.
At D’Artagnan the nose-to-tail concept is not new. Our charcuterie line is based on traditional recipes that Ariane learned in Southwest France. And the motto “Everything but the Quack” could have appeared on the company stationary.
Below are some suggestions of what can be made from the entire duck carcass.
Drumsticks & Thighs
Duck rillettes. Duck meat is chopped, salted and then simmered in an aromatic stock until the meat naturally shreds and falls off the bones. Cooled with enough fat to form a paste; used as a spread on bread or toast, served at room temperature.
Duck Terrine Mousquetaire. A classic country-style terrine enhanced with prunes and Armagnac. First the duck is deboned then the meat is ground with spices and finally cooked as a terrine.
Duck leg confit. Whole legs are cured in salt and spices then slowly cooked in duck fat.
Duck sausage with Armagnac. A must in garbure and cassoulet, also great simply grilled.
Breasts and Wings
Fresh Magret. Fresh, raw duck breast can be seared like a steak and served rare. Marinated duck magret offers succulence and flavor with none of the work.
Duck prosciutto. Individual breasts cured in salt and herbs, then hung to slowly dry, while constantly being brushed with olive oil.
Smoked duck breast. Seasoned only with salt and cracked pepper, the breasts are hot smoked very slowly over hickory chips.
Demi-glace. Rich dark and concentrated stock. Bones give it the collagen necessary for gelatinous texture, and the 3 days’ cooking time naturally concentrates flavor.
Whole Duck Deboned
Duck galantine. A deboned whole duck is stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, pressed into a cylindrical shape and poached.
Rendered duck fat. The “butter” (but better) of Gascony can be used to cook everything: eggs, vegetables, wild mushrooms, potatoes, meat, and even a dessert, the pastis Gascon. Cracklings. This is what’s left when you render fat. These crispy buts of fried skin are delicious when salted and eaten straight out of the pan; they are only good when freshly made.
Gizzards. Delicious when confited and then sliced warm in salads. Heart. Skewered with cèpes (porcini) and grilled, they are the fast food of Gascony. “White olives” or “white kidneys.” Found only in male ducks, they are seared in duck fat for maximum flavor, also can be skewered as the hearts.
Raw foie gras. These enlarged, fatty duck livers weigh 1 to 2 pounds, and can be sliced and seared, or prepared as a terrine or torchon. Foie gras is a versatile ingredient which is revered in gastronomy the world over. Also available in a two-slice package for an easy first course.
Terrine of foie gras. The purist preparation of foie gras; the entire liver is cooked at low temperature in a terrine mold with a minimum of ingredients: salt, pepper, Sauternes wine. Served cold.
Medallion of foie gras. Creamy foie gras mousse enhanced with black truffles. An elegant hors d’oeuvre spread on baguette slices.
French Kisses. The trinity of flavors in the Southwest France; foie gras mousse stuffed into Armagnac-soaked prunes.