In this episode of Back of the House, Ariane & Chef David Burke crank their duck presses into action to demonstrate the ancient art of pressing the flesh.
The duck press is a 19th century culinary invention—not a torture device!—that is highly regarded in classical French cuisine. Usually made of heavy brass, the duck press consists of a basket, a crank wheel and a plate that crushes the carcass of a partially cooked duck or other small fowl, extracting blood, juice and marrow to make a dark and savory blood sauce. At Tour D’Argent in Paris, they have famously served pressed duck (or presse à canard) since the 19th century, and as of this date, have served over 1 million pressed ducks (they number each one!).
Recently, chefs in the United States have revived the tradition of the duck press and use the spectacular devices in dramatic dining room presentations. While antique duck presses are hard to come by, expensive reproductions are available at specialty cooking supply houses and catalogs. Chef David Burke has several duck presses in his restaurants and he crushes all manner of delicious things, from fowl to crustaceans.
In this video, Ariane goes for the classic duck-- canard à la presse—and David, true to form, challenges assumptions by pressing a squab. He even discovers a vegetarian recipe that can be made in the duck press! Try his recipe for Foie Gras Corncakes which pairs well with duck or squab cooked in any fashion, after you watch this unusual and entertaining display of pressing the flesh. This video is not for the squeamish!