We had another loss here at the homestead. We are losing fowl at an alarming rate, 4 out of 13 over 6 months! Not very impressive…. Time for a fence and a dog! The ducks and chickens have been happily ranging out of the coop while we are home for a while now. They stay close to the house and in a tight group so it seemed all was fine. The other day I went to close them in for the night and only found seven out of eight chickens. Crazy Mable, (my favorite since she was so, you know, crazy) was nowhere to be seen. We searched and searched. I hadn’t counted them when I let them out but was right there with them the whole time unloading from my Costco stock up and refilling their waterers. I figure that someone had forgotten to count when they locked them in the night before (not naming names… ahem, cough, Zach…. cough) and she probably got left out and eaten. Fast forward to this weekend and everybody was happily roaming outside and eating up bugs and greens. I noticed the chickens were on alert at one point. A little while later we heard lots of quacking and ran out to see a bobcat right by the house attacking Jemima duck! We yelled and it dropped her and ran a ways away but sat watching us. I went to check on her and she was dead. I’m guessing now that this was what ate crazy Mable and was back for more so now we have a daytime problem too! I scooped her up, put her in a large clean galvanized bucket to bring inside so we could clean and dress her to cook. The kids looked a little horrified but we all knew it was the right thing to do. Dan chased the bobcat away so hopefully it is deterred for a while now. We found a YouTube video demonstrating all the steps and got right to work. The big kids scattered, not wanting anything to do with the process but Frankie was completely fascinated and watched the entire process. Tough girl!
I’ll spare you the detailed pictures but here’s a link to the video we used in case you want to know the process:
How to field dress a duck
This method removed the skin, in hindsight I would have liked to pluck it instead to roast it whole with the skin. It’s not like we were planning to do this right then though so we just did our best. We are however putting Jemima to good use! We parted her out and will get several dinners out of her.
I rinsed the liver and froze it to make pâté when we have some more livers to add to it. We are planning to raise and harvest broiler chickens this spring so that should give us more livers.
We got 2 x 8oz breasts. I decided to cook them in the sous vide so they would stay tender. I added 2T olive oil, 2 stalks of thyme, 1t Maldon sea salt and vacuum sealed them.
Then cooked them in the sous vide set at 135 degrees for an hour.
Remove, sear in a hot pan briefly (1 minute per side) and serve! We ate ours over red beans which simmered all day in turkey stock and black rice which was cooked in reserved bean liquid. So delicious!
The legs needed to brine in salt, thyme and bay leaves for 36 hours so they were the next nights dinner.
3 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme crushed in the mortar and pestle and mixed with 1/2c kosher salt for the brine. Then added to the vacuum bag with the legs, rubbed in and sealed to brine in the refrigerator for 36 hours.
Remove from the dry brine, rinse and pack with 3T duck fat (rendered from the duck). Place in the sous vide at 167 degrees for 10-12 hours.
Pan fry in a hot skillet to crisp up and serve! I took the leftover duck breast from the previous night, diced it and fried it with scallions, brown rice, peas, carrots and egg for a side of duck fried rice (pretty much our favorite way to cook leftovers, fried rice, omelets or quiche). So, so amazing! Better than the first night!
The carcass was roasted at 400 degrees for an hour with a little oil and salt rubbed in to render the fat and make stock with along with the feet. See? Putting her to good use! I added the carcass to a stock pot and chopped up the duck feet to release extra flavor and nutrients into the stock (sounds gross, I know, but that’s what gives chicken and duck broth its rich flavor and adds important nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and trace minerals). She doesn’t need them anymore so hike up your boot straps and JUST DO IT! Covered that with cold water and simmered (never boiled) for 2 hours.
I used 3T of the duck fat at the bottom of the roasting pan (strain the rest of the fat into a clean jar to use for duck legs and potatoes) to sauté an onion, carrots and garlic to add to the stock pot after 2 hours. Also added rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, Italian parsley and peppercorns and continued to simmer for another hour and a half.
So there you have it, Jemima all four ways:
- Sous Vide Duck Breasts
- Sous Vide Duck Legs
- Duck Fried Rice
- Duck broth
And eventually Pâté!
Rest in peace Jemima, you were a good duck. Yummy too! Look out Beatrix and Mr. Drake….
Sous Vide Skinless Duck Breast
2 x Skinless Duck Breast
2T Olive Oil
1t Maldon Sea Salt
2 Sprigs Thyme
Heat the Sous Vide to 135 degrees.
Place the duck breasts into a vacuum bag along with the rest of the ingredients.
Seal and vacuum using the moist setting.
Place sealed bag into the Sous Vide for 1 hour.
Remove from the bag and sear in a hit pan for 1 minute per side.
Slice on the bias and serve.
Sous Vide Duck Legs
2 Duck Legs
1/2 c Kosher Salt
3 Bay leaves
1 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
3T Duck Fat
Grind the thyme and bay leaves in a mortar and pestle and combine it with the kosher salt.
Place the duck legs in a vacuum bag and pour the salt mixture over them.
Rub the salt into the legs.
Seal and vacuum the bag using the moist setting.
Refrigerate for 36 hours.
Heat the Sous Vide to 167 degrees.
Remove from bag, rinse and pat dry.
Place in a new bag along with the duck fat.
Seal and vacuum the bag using the moist setting.
Place in the Sous Vide for 10-12 hours.
Remove from bag, sear in a hot pan for 1 minute per side and serve.
This is a great way to utilize the whole duck. The carcass has a lot of flavor and can render fat for other uses. The feet provide the collagen with gives the broth a nice texture.
1 Duck Carcass
1T Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Duck Feet
2 Garlic Cloves
5 Bay Leaves
1 Bunch Italian Parsely
1 Sprig Rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rub the carcass with the oil, season with salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, place carcass in large stockpot and add cold water just to cover.
Chop the duck feet to release the colleges and add to the stock pot.
Bring to a simmer (never boil) for 2 hours.
Meanwhile quarter the onion and slice the carrots.
Heat the roasting pan on the stove and brown the onion, garlic a carrots in the rendered fat (if there is more than 3T save it for another use).
Add the roasted vegetables to the stockpot and simmer for another hour and a half.
Remove from heat, let cool, strain and use in soups or any recipe that calls for chicken broth.
This broth freezes well too.