Duck is eaten throughout Europe, continuing a tradition thousands of years old. While the Egyptians and Chinese are credited for the domestication of the wild duck, it appears the Slavs also had the same idea, more than 3000 years ago.
There are several European breeds, of which the Barbary is preferred because of its lean firm flesh.
In France a cross from the Barbary and Nantes breeds called the Mulard is raised for the production of foie gras, the fattened duck (or goose) liver that is one of Europe’s most recognisable traditional foods. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat devotes several pages of her History of Food to the fascinating and long history of foie gras.
Wild ducks are very much the preserve of haute cuisine in western Europe these days, while eastern Europeans treat them the way they have always done – by keeping traditional dishes made with wild duck on the menu.
Mallard and Teal are the popular breeds.
Traditionally only the breasts were considered edible. When the whole duck was cooked, it was simmered in an aromatic stock and served with a punguent sauce.
Vladimir Mirodan records a dish he suspects was brought to Bessarabia by invading Tartars, who slow baked duck in a herb and vegetable stock, then served it with a cherry sauce.
Duck fat is treasured in some European food cultures. Potatoes par-boiled, then roasted in duck fat remain an essential traditional food in eastern Europe and Russia.
Whether domesticated or wild, the flesh and liver of ducks is perfect for making pâtés and terrines.
Pâté de Canard d’Amiens, version 1
This duck pâté, originally made in the 17th century, is still popular despite many changes to the original recipe.
- 500 g pastry flour
- 125 g butter
- 2 eggs
- 25 ml water
- 1.5 kg duck, deboned
- Duck heart, liver, chopped
- 100 g veal, chopped
- 100 g pork belly, cubed
- 100 g mushrooms, chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt Brandy, splash
- Butter, for dough wash
- Egg yolk, for glazing
Make the pastry dough, rest in fridge for at least two hours.
Combine the offal, pork and veal with the onions, mushrooms and shallots, seasonings and eggs. Mix well, add a generous splash of brandy.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Lay the duck flat on an oiled surface, cover with filling, bring together and carefully sew the edges.
Roll the dough to fit into and cover your terrine or dish.
Brush dough with butter and place the stuffed duck inside. Bring the dough over the duck, sealing the edges with more butter.
Decorate, glaze, then pierce the dough lid in two places, creating small holes to allow steam to evaporate.
Bake for 105 minutes, 150°C for the last 45 minutes.
Pâté de Canard d’Amiens, version 2
This version includes ingredients that were once typical, and this has a genuine paté filling. The bacon, duck and veal is chopped and put through a mincer for a coarse mix, which is then sieved into a paté. The rabbit fillet is left whole. This recipe has a higher proportion of meat, and much less fat.
- 2 kg pastry flour
- 500 g butter / lard
- 300 ml water
- 10 g salt
- 1.5 kg duck, deboned, skinned, chopped, minced
- Duck heart, liver, chopped, minced
- 250 g pork belly, chopped, minced
- 150 g rabbit fillet, whole
- 100 g veal, chopped, minced
- 2 eggs
- 75 g duxelles*1
- 50 g butter
- 30 g foie gras, diced
- 10 g black truffle, sliced, sautéed in butter, cooled
- 15 g salt
- Brandy, splash Water
- Butter, for dough wash
- Egg yolk, for, glazing
- 30 g aspic*2
Prepare the dough a full day ahead of baking. Leave in the fridge or a cold place.
Combine all the meat except the rabbit fillet in a large bowl.
Add foie gras, truffles and seasoning, then the duxelles and eggs. Add brandy and some water to loosen it.*3
Divide the dough into two pieces, one to cover the inside of the terrine and one for the lid, each with a little overlap.
Stuff the filling into the terrine with the rabbit fillet in the middle, place the dough lid on top, sealing the edges.
Decorate, brush with butter and make two small holes. A piece of rolled cardboard or foil can be used to make a funnel in each hole. This allows steam out and prevents the paté from cracking.
Bake at 200°C for 75 minutes, 150°C for the last 30 minutes.
Remove chimneys and pour the aspic into the holes, allowing some to overflow. Leave to cool, place in fridge.
*1: Sauté one chopped onion, five shallots and 25 g of mushrooms gently in butter over a medium heat. Leave to cool.
*2: Aspic for terrines is usually made with marrow-rich bones, usually pig and specifically trotters, slow cooked in a large pot with carrots, leeks, onions, seasoning and plenty of water, reduced, strained, clarified over a gentle bubbling heat with one egg white per 1.2 litres of stock and herbs, usually chervil and French tarragon, enriched with port of sherry, and strained again. For a dense aspic add some carrageen during the clarification stage.
*3: Hard apples peeled, cored and cut into cubes replace the duxelles in some recipes.
The exact quantities depend on the size of your terrine tins or suitable vessels, how much you want to make and what you want to flavour it with.
This is a guide.
- 1.5 kg duck, deboned, breast meat cut into strips, dark meat retained
- 500 g belly pork, rind removed, cubed
- 100 ml brandy
- 5 g peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 1 bay / laurel leaf
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 6 blades rosemary
- 4 sage leaves
- 2 juniper berries
- 1 cardamon pod, seeds
- Allspice, ground, pinch
- Chillies, dried red, power, pinch
- Paprika, smoked, pinch
- Pomegranate powder, pinch Salt, pinch
Marinade for 24 hours.
Drain, leaving meat free of any bits, strain liquid into a pot, reduce over a medium heat to a smooth consistency, leave to cool.
- 250 g white mushrooms, chopped
- 250 g onions, chopped
- 30 g butter
- Nutmeg, large pinch
- Black pepper, large pinch
- Salt, pinch
Saute onions in butter over a low heat for 15 minutes, add mushrooms and allow to reduce, season and leave to cool.
- Duck dark meat, chopped
- 350 g pork belly, rind removed, chopped
- 125 g red onion, chopped
- 125 g orange, zest
- 50 g cranberries
- 2 eggs
- 30 g seasonings of choice
Combine the ingredients, mix in the duxelles and the marinade sauce and stir thoroughly.
- 500 g mushrooms, chopped
- 350 g duck liver
- 250 g bacon, chopped
- 200 ml stout / malted beer
- 3 eggs
- 50 g onions, chopped
Blend all the ingredients.
- Streaky bacon rashers, stretched
Lay bacon into the terrine tin or tins, allowing each rasher to drop over the side. When the terrines are filled with the meat and forcemeat, the rashers should fold back over the top, without any gaps.
Lightly place a layer of the smooth forcemeat on top of the bacon. Follow with a thick layer of rough forcement and then the marinaded meat. Repeat the rough forcement and meat mixture layers until the tin or tins are nearly full, finish with another thick layer of smooth forcement.
Fold the bacon slices over to complete the seal.
Place the tin or tins in a bain marie, cover with parchment and weigh with blindbake balls or something heavy to apply pressure to the surface.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Bake for 130 minutes.
Drain the liquid from the tins, reserve. Quickly and carefully place the terrines into trays with enough room around each side. Pour as much liquid into the trays as each will take. Leave to cool.
Remove from trays. When the terrines are cold, smooth residual fat and jelly over the sides, to make a seal. The duck fat poured out at the start of the process can also be used to seal and preserve the terrine.
Wrap in parchment, store in fridge.
Oriental flavours penetrated the recipe for roast duck over a century ago, so much that they are no longer thought of as foreign.
- Large duck, no smaller than 1.5 kg
- 1.5 litres water
- 350 ml white wine
- 250 g carrots, chopped
- 250 g onions, sliced
- 150 g tomatoes, chopped
- 50 g boletus mushrooms, fresh, chopped
- 50 g white mushrooms, fresh, chopped
- 30 g honey
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30 ml oyster sauce
- 25 g ginger root
- 15 g sweet soy
- 10 g black pepper, freshly ground
- 5 g palm sugar
- 5 g salt
- 10 sage leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 bunch parsley
Season cavity with salt and pepper, garlic, ginger, palm sugar and sweet soy. Cover and set aside.
Put giblets (not liver) in the wine with the carrots, onions and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, add salt and parsley, thyme, sage and water.
Bring back to the boil, then reduce heat to low, simmer for an hour.
You should be left with roughly one and a half litres of stock.
Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
Stuff cavity with mushrooms.
Place duck on a rack or grill over a deep baking tray, cover loosely with foil, cook for an hour breast side up, then for another hour breast side down, drain fat.
Put half of the stock in the tray, re-cover with foil, cook for a hour.
Combine honey and oyster sauce.
Remove foil, pour out and reserve liquid from tray. Pour in remaining stock.
Rub honey oyster sauce mixture over all of the duck, brush and baste every ten minutes for forty minutes. Do not let the skin burn.
Reduce the reserved liquid to make a gravy.
Serve with baked apples, and potatoes roasted in duck fat.