Duck, post-op--inquiry

So I made Merrill's slow-roast duck the other day and it was delicious. But it was extremely difficult to break down after cooking. I can easily cut up a whole roast chicken blindfolded (me, not the chicken) and with one hand tied behind my back, but this duck was a tough (but tasty) biddy.. Should it have gone longer in the oven? I had an impossible time cracking through the bones and tendons to separate the rib section from the thigh, etc. I also roasted a bunch of wings. They were full of tendons and the meat was not so tender: yummy but tough. It was "ethically raised" open pastured etc. Maybe that had something to do with it.

  • Posted by: creamtea
  • September 28, 2014


aargersi October 2, 2014
Those duck wings don't let him escape ME! So I am finally chiming in (have been following this convo with great interest!) I have had luck with slow roasted duck, but mine have been grocery store fatsos - and more often than not when they are done I have pulled them apart with my hands, fried the skin for cracklins and used the meat and bones for gumbo.
Mallard reaction. Hee hee
mainecook61 October 1, 2014
Ooh, duck wings! There's a reason they're not bar food. Unlike many chickens, most ducks USE their wings. There's not much meat on there, just the bones and tendons that might help duckie (remember Peter and the Wolf?) get away from the numerous predators that adore duck above all poultry. Same for goose wings.
creamtea October 2, 2014
Thanks mainecook61, that 'splains a lot!
ChefJune September 29, 2014
I didn't say anything before, since you were specifically asking about roasting a whole duck... but Julia Child recommended cooking the bottom half and the top half separately. She felt the breast got overcooked while the legs were getting done. I'm pretty sure that recipe is in "The Way to Cook." I'm not where I can look it up right now.
Greenstuff September 29, 2014
I have The Way to Cook right here. You're right--one method she suggests is to roast the duck until the breast is done, then removing the legs for further cooking.

She also suggests another method for whole ducks, "steam roasting." First you steam the duck for 30 minutes, then you braise it for 30 minutes at 325, and finally you roast it for 30-40 minutes at 375. Being Julia, she has a lot more information and direction for both recipes, so it'd be worth checking out the book.
Greenstuff September 28, 2014
Just joining the chorus here--if your duck is tough, you didn't go long enough. Or long and slow enough. I think 300 should have worked if you'd cooked it longer. Even 325 can be fine for just duck legs, getting meltingly good and also browned, without cranking up the heat. Duck breast actually works better as a quick grill rather than the long roast, but I know the allure of the whole bird.

Since there's some talk about the holidays--the same thing is true of goose. If it's tough, you didn't give it enough time.
creamtea October 2, 2014
Thanks for your input, Chris. I'll go lower and longer next time or simply buy just the breast.
Sam1148 September 28, 2014
*Forgot to add that you remove the lid and crank the heat to crisp the chicken skin.*

Yes, because with duck you really need a blast of high heat to get the Mallard reaction.
Susan W. September 28, 2014
Yes, I am not even sure my pastured chicken method would work with the duck. Maybe it would if it was covered for just part of the time.
Meaghan F. September 28, 2014
Lolllll Sam...
Diana B. September 29, 2014
The Mallard reaction - I love it! Somehow, I think Louis-Camille Maillard would have enjoyed the pun, too...
Susan W. September 29, 2014
Oh, I totally missed Mallard. I swear my eyes have auto spell correction. I would make a terrible editor..or teacher.
creamtea October 2, 2014
hahaha. Mallard reaction! That's what I call a wisequack.
Pegeen September 28, 2014
creamtea, let us know how it goes if you try another duck. I'm thinking of making duck for Thanksgiving or Christmas, the info would be helpful.
Susan W. September 28, 2014
Creamtea, just like pastured chickens take a different cooking approach and mindset, I think pastured ducks do as well. I would think Merrill's low and slow method would be perfect.

The chickens I buy from Kookoolan farms (local here in Oregon) are 100% pastured. In fact, they are seasonal because of that. They make conventionally raised birds seem flabby and tasteless now, but at first they seemed a tad tough. Farmer Chrissy taught me to roast them in a covered dutch oven. No liquids..just the chicken. I wonder if the duck would have benefited from that method.

Also, soon, Kookoolan will be selling their dinosaur (older hens) chickens which I always braise. Was your duck huge?
Susan W. September 28, 2014
Forgot to add that you remove the lid and crank the heat to crisp the chicken skin.
creamtea September 28, 2014
I roasted it uncovered at 300º; maybe that was too high (Merrill's calls for 250º). It was cooked through but probably could have gone little longer. I didn't "rest" it, which perhaps I should have done. I probably should have carved off the meat instead of what I did, which was to try to cut through the bones. I will try it again, I hope and will carve it off the carcass (which I realized later would have been great to save for stock). It was not the smallest size, I think it was medium-size.
Susan W. September 28, 2014
I think you are onto something with cooking it at 250° and longer. 50° difference is pretty substantial. And stock..swoon.
Pegeen September 28, 2014
I've never had to carve a duck, but if you do a search on "how to carve a duck," it obviously involves some special dance moves. My search also turned up "how to carve a wooden duck" - maybe that would be easier! :-)
creamtea September 28, 2014
Thanks, Pegeen! I watched a couple of videos and see I could have done things differently; instead of trying to crack on through the bone I should have carved off the meat like I do with turkey. I will try that next.
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