Grilled Half Duck ~ a quick weeknight meal (for real)!
Good duck is hard to beat but make it without knowing a few preparation tips and you take a healthy cut of meat and turn it into shoe leather.
Earlier this summer I was invited to attend the inaugural year of Duck University. Several food writers, bloggers and recipe competitors converged on Maple Leaf HQ for 3 days of education, product facility tours and eating. Oh the eating. The best duck dishes I have ever had were served to us and prepared by Master Chef Dale Miller and his staff. We were able to ask questions and see some out of the box treatments for this versatile and healthy protein.
The next day after tours of a farm and facility, we were treated to a wonderful “working lunch” created by my favorite chef (yes, she IS my favorite) Sara Moulton. She demonstrated several dishes for us and below I will share the photos with the links to her recipes. She has a straightforward, no BS approach to cooking, family, life in the public eye and what it is like to be a woman in a male dominated field. I could listen to her for hours and I was so grateful to have a chance to talk to her one on one again while at Maple Leaf.
Some of the tips that Sara and Maple Leaf staff shared are invaluable and great points to know when it comes to choosing a duck recipe to prepare.
*Duck is a great protein alternative and skinless duck is actually lower in calories and fat than chicken.
*Duck can fit many flavor profiles and cuisines.
*A 3 oz skinless duck breast has 2g of fat. Duck fat is similar in nutrition to olive oil.
*Duck is not gamey. Pekin duck, the breed that MLF raises, is farm raised and fed well.
*There are many instructional videos and recipes on the MLF website- so it helps point you in the right direction.
*Duck is a red meat and needs to be prepared as such. See this post where I make MLF duck breasts on Fox59 Morning News
The USDA recommends that duck be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. When I cook duck breasts on the stovetop I score the skin side in a diamond pattern and sear that side first, flip after 6-7 minutes then finish off in the oven (in the same pan) until it is cooked through.
MLF also sells a large amount of pre-cooked duck products and many weeknights that is what I use. I can make Sara Moulton’s Bistro Duck Breasts in 30 minutes as well as many of her duck-themed recipes.
I think one of the many takeaways of Duck University was that we gained a greater understanding of the company, their high ethical and professional standards and learned a few easy recipes to share with our readers. I learned all of that and so much more. I even have the diploma to prove it!
This recipe is a simple one and one that makes use of the seasonally fresh ingredients of sweet corn and blueberries. This is also fantastic with cherries as well. I grilled the duck, just to take the chill off and to get some good grill marks. While that was cooking I sauteed a bit of bacon, cilantro, sweet corn kernels and sweet onion in a cast iron skillet on the grill top. Once the saute was done I tossed in the blueberries and placed the cooked duck on top. I only used a roast half duck but you could certainly use 2 halves in this recipe and not change a thing.
- 1 roast duck half from Maple Leaf Farms
- 2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
- 1 small vidalia or sweet onion, diced
- 1 pint blueberries, washed
- 2 strips bacon, chopped
- 1 TB olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
- 2 TB cilantro, chopped
- zest of 1 lime
- Juice of that lime
- On a prepared grill set at a medium heat, place the duck breast side down.
- In a large cast iron skillet, add the oil and bacon.
- Saute until bacon is almost cooked and add the onion.
- Allow to cook for 2 minutes then add the corn.
- Season with salt, pepper, lime juice and zest.
- Flip the duck.
- Saute until corn is a golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat and gently toss in the blueberries.
- Place the duck breast, which is fully cooked, on top of the corn mixture.
- Serve immediately.
Resources for duck recipes:
I want to thank Maple Leaf Farms for trusting me to share their story (see part 1 HERE), tour their headquarters and product facility, feed mill as well as inviting me to meet the family and join them on yet another adventure. I would not have done this if I wasn’t already a huge fan and like all things I post on Basilmomma.com all opinions are my own.
A few shots of friends new and old: