Many people associate duck with fat. But in fact, it contains more nutrients than you think. It contains mostly healthy unsaturated fats, but at the same time it has a rich meaty taste. Most cooking methods involve preparing the duck so that most of the fat is rendered out, leaving crispy skin and lean meat. Rendered duck fat can be used as a healthier alternative to butter or other fats. Duck meat is very aromatic, and it is also an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. If duck is extremely rare (or not present at all) in your diet, it’s time to reconsider your views.
The benefits and harms of duck meat
By itself, the duck does not contain carbohydrates, it does not contain any sugar or fiber. Duck has a lot of fat between the skin and meat, but there is no marbled fat throughout the meat, as is the case with beef, for example. It is because of this visible layer of fat that duck has earned its reputation as a high-fat product. However, the amount of total fat will vary considerably depending on how the duck is prepared and eaten, with or without the skin.
In fact, with no skin or visible fat, duck meat contains less fat than fried chicken breasts. For example, a skinless duck breast contains only 2 grams of total fat (0.5 grams comes from saturated fat) per serving. The same serving of skinless fried chicken breast contains 3 grams of total fat (1 gram of which is saturated fat). Duck legs contain less fat than skinless chicken thighs. Most of the fat in duck is healthy unsaturated fats, including plenty of monounsaturated fats and a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Duck is a high quality protein with many essential and non-essential amino acids. It contains many micronutrients, including iron (duck meat provides 50% of the daily value), selenium and a small amount of vitamin C. Duck contains many B vitamins, but is especially rich in niacin and vitamin B12. Like other B vitamins, niacin plays an important role in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose and the metabolism of fats and proteins. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the functioning of the nervous system, the formation of red blood cells and DNA synthesis.
This animal protein is interesting in that it contains some of the beneficial nutrients found in red meat (such as iron) but does not contain as many saturated fats. About 75 grams of cooked meat provides more than 25% of your daily protein requirement.
Regular consumption of duck meat (along with Brazil nuts, fish, and other animal proteins) provides the body with selenium, an important antioxidant that can help prevent cell damage and fight inflammation, and supports the body’s immune system. Getting enough selenium is also important for thyroid health.
While oily fish is considered a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids, duck also contains these heart-healthy acids. Replacing the usual protein in the diet with duck can have a positive effect on the body’s cardiovascular system.
Duck meat is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A and E, vitamins B1 and B2. In addition, it also contains phosphorus, zinc and copper, potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and manganese. The nutritional profile of duck fat is more similar to olive oil than other animal fats. It contains more monounsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Duck skin contains a significant amount of glycine. Glycine is an essential amino acid that performs a wide range of functions in the body. Although it is technically a non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body produces a limited amount of it), scientists have shown that dietary intake of glycine can have various benefits. For example, glycine plays a critical role in skin health and wound healing, as well as properties that promote quality sleep.
Although there is no evidence of allergic reactions to duck meat yet, people who are allergic to other types of meat may well experience a reaction to duck fat. Caution should be used duck for people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases, and also have high cholesterol levels. Otherwise, moderate consumption of duck meat will only benefit.
How to choose a duck
As with any meat selection, freshness is the most important criterion. The duck should not have foreign odors, stains, damage. The meat should be firm and slightly moist, and the skin should be evenly colored.
The younger the duck, the more tender its meat . You can determine the age of a bird by the color of fat – the richer it is, the older the duck. In younger carcasses, the fat will be almost transparent. It is best to give preference to young birds.
If you buy a whole bird, pay attention to the beak – it should shine slightly. And paws and fingers should move apart easily.
Refuse to buy if:
- fat is dark or even greenish;
- when lightly pressed with a finger, a dent remains on the meat;
- the carcass is too thin;
- the skin is blotchy or damaged or clammy;
- there is a foreign smell;
- dry membranes between the paws, and the beak is pale.
How to make a duck soft
Ideal for baking – a young duck weighing about 2.5 kg. To make it soft, you can use juicy fruits for the filling, as well as mushrooms. Too old meat is unlikely to be made really juicy during the cooking process.
Before roasting, wrap the duck in foil or place in a sleeve (bag). Thus, the main part of the duck process will be soaked in flavors and aromas of fat. 15-20 minutes before the end of the process, remove the foil or cut the bag to brown the skin (some of the fat can be drained at this stage). If you are roasting an open duck, it is important to baste it every 20-30 minutes with the fat that is rendered during the process, otherwise there is a chance of getting dry meat. If roasting poultry on the wire rack, be sure to place a high-sided pan down to catch the fat.
To make the meat softer, you can use citrus fruits, oranges or lemons, for example. Thanks to fruit acids, such a marinade will help soften the bird.
If you are frying the breast separately, it is important to properly render the fat. Place the breast, skin side down, in a cold skillet and begin heating. When the fat has rendered sufficiently, the skin will be crispy and ruddy.
To stew a duck in a pan or in a slow cooker, just add a little liquid – water, broth, wine, etc. As the liquid evaporates, you may need to add a little more so that the duck is stewed evenly and becomes soft.
A properly selected fresh young duck with a minimum of effort will turn into a juicy, tender, fragrant and very tasty baked or stewed bird. Feel free to experiment with recipes, add spices, herbs, and various grains, vegetables or fruits to stuff it. After cooking, the main part of the fat from the duck will be rendered, leaving only juicy meat, which will surely bring you a lot of pleasure!
Soft duck with apples
The combination of duck meat with apples has long been a classic. Soy sauce can be used to add an interesting savory note to the dish, as well as many different seasonings that you like. Roasting in a sleeve is a great way to get tender and juicy meat.
- Duck – 1 pc.;
- Soy sauce – 80 ml;
- Apple – 2-3 pcs.;
- Salt, pepper and spices – to taste.
Wash the duck and dry well. Rub with salt and spices on all sides, pour over with soy sauce and put in the refrigerator for an hour. Then pour the sauce over again and leave for another 1-2 hours so that the bird marinates well.
Wash and dry apples. Place them inside the carcass. Carefully transfer the duck to the roasting sleeve and tie off the ends. Put the bird on a baking sheet and send it to the oven preheated to 180 degrees. Bake for about 2.5 hours until soft. At the end of the process, carefully cut the sleeve and brown the crust. Serve duck with apples hot.
Duck stewed with vegetables
This is a hearty and tasty full-fledged dish that is perfect not only for the daily menu, but also for the festive table. This option on how to cook duck is good because you can always vary the list of vegetables to diversify the dish and complement the flavor range.
- Duck (parts) – 450 grams;
- Potatoes – 2 pcs.;
- Bulb – 1 pc.;
- Cherry tomatoes – 4 pcs.;
- White cabbage – 200 grams;
- Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp. l.;
- Salt and pepper – to taste;
- Bay leaf – 2-3 pieces;
- Water – about 500 ml.
Wash the duck (cut into pieces) and pat dry. Prepare the vegetables – peel the potatoes and onions, wash and dry the tomatoes. Choose dishes with a thick bottom, a cauldron is perfect. Pour vegetable oil and heat. Add duck and sear over high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Gently add hot water, bay leaf and salt. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour over medium heat.
Cut potatoes, onions, cabbage and tomatoes into large pieces. Put the vegetables to the duck. Add more salt, pepper, and your favorite spices, if desired. Cover again and simmer for about half an hour until the vegetables are soft.
Serve the dish hot, if desired, adding fresh herbs.
Juicy duck in wine marinade
An incredibly appetizing, fragrant and tender duck will turn out in the oven, on the stove or in a slow cooker. You can use either white or red wine for the marinade. To shade the taste of the bird, you can take semi-sweet wine.
- Duck (parts) – 600 grams;
- Bulb – 2-3 pcs.;
- Tomato – 4 pcs.;
- Duck or any other fat – 2 tbsp. l.;
- Wine – 1 glass;
- Salt, pepper and herbs – to taste.
Wash the meat, dry and remove from the bones, cut into medium pieces. In a frying pan, in a heat-resistant saucepan or a multicooker bowl, melt the fat. Add meat and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove meat and set aside for now.
Peel the onion, cut into small cubes and fry until light golden brown. Wash the tomatoes, dry and peel (make a small incision on top, dip in boiling water for 1 minute, then cool and carefully remove the skin) and chop with a blender. Put the tomato puree to the onion and simmer for a couple of minutes. Return the meat, add salt and pepper, pour in the wine. Cover and simmer on the stove, send to the oven or set the “Stewing” program if using a slow cooker. Depending on the size of the pieces, you will need between 1 and 1.5 hours for the duck to become soft. Top with fresh herbs before serving.
Duck with lemon and rosemary
This is a simple but quite interesting way to bake duck in the oven. Citrus fruits not only add flavor and aroma, but also make the meat more tender.
- Duck – 1 pc.;
- Lemon – 1 pc.;
- Dried rosemary – 1/2 tsp;
- Salt and pepper – to taste.
Wash the duck and pat dry. Rub on all sides with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and rub it over the carcass. Leave for 1 hour to marinate the bird.
Cut the other half of the lemon into thin slices. Place a portion inside the duck, spread the rest on top. Place the bird in a roasting sleeve and place on a baking sheet. Send to the oven preheated to 180 degrees for about 2 hours (this time is enough to bake a duck weighing 2 kg). 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking, carefully cut the sleeve to brown the bird.
Serve hot, with sauce, side dish or vegetables.
Duck in tomato sauce
Another juicy and tasty duck, the recipe is equally well suited for both the stove and the oven or slow cooker, for example. Tomato paste can always be replaced with your favorite tomato sauce. Be sure to add a pinch or two of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomato.
- Duck (parts) – 500 grams;
- Tomato paste – 3 tbsp. l.;
- Bulb – 1 pc.;
- Vegetable oil – 1.5 tbsp. l.;
- Bay leaf – 2-3 pieces;
- Sugar – 1-2 pinches;
- Salt and pepper – to taste.
Wash the duck, pat dry and chop if necessary. Pour oil into the bottom of a large frying pan, cauldron, multicooker bowl or heat-resistant pan and heat. Put the duck and fry until golden brown on all sides. Carefully pour in about 500 ml. hot water, add salt and pepper, lay out the bay leaves and leave to simmer for about 1 hour.
Dissolve the tomato paste with a pinch of sugar in a small amount of water. Peel the onion and cut into thin half rings. Put the onion to the duck and pour in the tomato sauce. Add a little more salt and pepper if desired. Simmer the duck until fully cooked for another 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
Serve the dish to the table hot, adding your favorite side dish and, if desired, herbs.