A person can only take so much chicken. When every meal starts to feature grilled white meat or sautéed thighs, cooking becomes more of a chore and much less fun. Wake up your palate by replacing the popular poultry with its darker sibling: duck. Its rich flavor plays well with tons of different ingredients, and you can even serve the breast meat rare. And don’t let the fat fool you; FitDay said this bird is actually leaner than chicken if you remove the skin. Additionally, duck is a great source of protein, iron, vitamin B3, and selenium.
You don’t need to be a kitchen master to use the dark poultry, because it’s just as easy to work with as any other protein. These six recipes show you how to easily work duck into your diet. Chicken just got replaced.
1. Duck Confit Nachos with Corn-Chipotle Salsa
It’s pretty easy to make nachos with little more than cheese, beef, and salsa. Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, which he shared with Food Network, takes them over the top by using duck confit and a zesty, corn-studded salsa. These nachos might just be the fanciest way to eat a pile of tortilla chips.
Lagasse’s recipe offers options to make your own duck confit and tortilla chips. All those steps might be fun for a weekend project, but you can purchase the ingredients to make things go a lot quicker. Feel free to play around with flavored tortilla chips, too.
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups corn kernels
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
- ½ cup minced red onion, plus ½ cup thinly sliced red onion rings
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more
- 1 tabelspoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Tortilla chips
- 4 duck confit legs, shredded, skin and bone removed
- 3 cups grated Havarti or cheddar cheese
- 4 whole jalapeños, stemmed, and sliced into thin strips
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
Directions: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add corn, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cumin, stir, and cook until deeply golden, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let cool.
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, diced onions, cilantro, lime juice, chioptle, and garlic. Add corn, and stir to combine. Season with salt, to taste.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange chips over a large baking sheet. Top with shredded duck and cheese. Arrange sliced onion and jalapeños on top. Bake until cheese is melted, and nachos are hot, 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove from oven, and top with salsa and sour cream. Garnish with additional cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
2. Duck Burger
Burgers made from poultry tend to be disappointingly bland. Swap that ground turkey for duck, and you’ll never have to worry about tasteless patties again. Food Republic’s easy recipe is a tasty mashup of Chinese and American cuisines. The burger itself features five-spice powder and some grated ginger, while toppings include mayo and Swiss cheese.
If you can’t find ground duck at your store, you have a number of options. You can get your meat from a butcher shop, and they’ll be happy to grind it for you. If you have your own meat grinder, go ahead and put it to use. Lastly, you can get pretty decent results by using your food processor. The Kitchn shared a simple method to get you started. Just be sure to remove the skin before you begin.
- 1 pound ground duck meat
- 1 ounce duck fat
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 4 Brioche rolls
Directions: In a bowl, mix duck, scallions, ginger, duck fat, and five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper. Portion into four patties.
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook burgers, flipping once, about 8 minutes for medium rare. Cook longer if you prefer a more well-done burger.
Top with cheese, and serve on buns with mayonnaise.
3. Pasta with Tuscan Duck Sauce
You might be used to pasta sauces made with beef or veal, but duck is actually one of the most common proteins in Italy. While many meat sauces featuring the poultry take tons of ingredients, you can get a similarly hearty flavor by making The New York Times’ delicious wine and duck pasta. With just seven ingredients, you’ll be shocked at how complex the finished dish tastes.
Start by slowly cooking the duck legs on the stove. Once the meat is tender, remove it from the pan, and then add in onions, wine, and tomatoes. Shred the meat, and stir it back into the sauce. Serve with some pasta, and finish with grated cheese. This dish will make you forget all about bolognese.
- 2 duck legs
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ cups dry red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 pound cut pasta, such as penne
- Grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Directions: Trim any visible fat from duck, then lay in a 10-inch skillet, skin-side down. Turn heat to medium. Once duck is sizzling, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Check occasionally to ensure legs don’t burn. Skin should be golden, not black. Turn, and cook until duck is very tender, at least 30 minutes longer.
Remove duck, and set aside. To same skillet, add onion, and turn heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Set a large pot of salted water on separate burner, and bring to a boil.
Add wine to onion, and turn heat to high. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 15 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
Meanwhile, shred duck, and add to sauce. While sauce is simmering, cook pasta. Drain when pasta is tender, but still firm. Serve pasta with sauce and cheese.
4. Smoked Duck and Cherry Pressed Sandwich
Tired of the same sandwich? Give your lunchtime staple a new look with this smoked duck and cherry concoction from Chow.com. The handheld meal is smoky, salty, sweet, and tangy. While blue cheese tastes phenomenal with cherries and duck, you can opt for something like fontina if you prefer a meltier cheese.
- ⅓ cup bing cherries, pitted, and halved
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup baby arugula leaves, rinsed, dried, and torn into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 (6-inch) French roll
- 2 ounces smoked duck breast, thinly sliced
- 1 ounce sweet blue cheese
Directions: Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium heat. Combine cherries and vinegar in a small, nonreactive bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and let sit at least 10 minutes. In another small bowl, toss arugula with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Slice roll in half, and pull out some of interior to create a pocket for fillings.
Fill bottom half of roll by layering arugula, duck, and cheese. Top with cherries and any accumulated juices. Close sandwich, and wrap in aluminum foil.
Set sandwich in heated pan, and weigh down with a heavy object, like a frying pan. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese melts, turning halfway through, about 10 minutes total. Let rest in foil 3 to 4 minutes. Slice, and serve.
5. Black-Pepper Roasted Duck Breasts with Grilled Plums
Nothing impresses guests quite like perfectly cooked duck, so consider making Epicurious’ fruit and poultry pairing the next time you have some friends over. The finished meal looks impressive, but it’s pretty easy to pull off. You can even cook the duck on the grill. Set your skillet right on top of the grates, then just follow the recipe. Be sure to keep an eye on the duck, though, because you may have to move it to a cooler part of the grill if the heat is too high. You may have to cook in two batches, depending on the size of your grill.
- 4 (12- to 14-ounce) boneless Muscovy duck breast halves, trimmed of excess fat
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 6 firm but ripe plums, halved, and pitted
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
Directions: Using a sharp knife, score duck skin in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat, spacing cuts 1 inch apart. Season duck on both sides with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and chill.
Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Toss plums with olive oil, sugar, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Grill plums, cut-side down, until marks appear and plums soften, about 4 minutes. Turn plums. Grill on other side until skin begins to soften, but plums still hold shape, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl, cover with foil, and let sit.
Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat. Add two duck breasts, skin-side down, to each skillet, Cook until skin is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Flip duck, and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 8 minutes longer for medium-rare. Remove from heat, and let rest 5 minutes.
Thinly slice duck crosswise. Divide among plates. Place two plum halves on each serving, and drizzle juices over top. Sprinkle with remaining thyme, and serve.
6. Peking Duck Stir-Fry
Give a basic stir-fry way more flavor by using duck with Food & Wine’s fast recipe. The meat cooks in just a few minutes since you slice it before marinating, making this a great choice for weeknights. Because this entrée is so full-flavored, you only need some simple rice and veggies to round out the meal. Quick, easy, and completely satisfying.
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless Pekin duck breasts, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 red chile, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup salted, roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Directions: In a medium bowl, stir 1 tablespoon soy sauce with wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Add duck, and turn to coat. Let marinate 10 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat remaining oil. Add duck, reserving marinade, and cook over high heat until medium rare, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add garlic, shallot, jalapeño, and red chile to skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add remaining soy sauce, reserved marinade, sugar, and stock to pan, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Add duck to pan, and stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove from heat, and add peanuts. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.