Obsessing about duck fat may not be healthy, but it's been fun. Got a frozen King Cole duck at the Sprouts grocery store. Set it in a big bowl in the fridge to defrost.
I've gotten creeped out about poultry after reading Omnivore's Dilemma and also hearing Joel Salatin, and Barbara Kingsolver speak in recent years. Still, I am unwilling to give up the foods and flavors traditional to my family.
Got out Joy of Cooking and went online looking for info about duck fat. I studied the King Cole website and wrote an email to the King Cole duck company asking for duck fat suggestions. I found a recipe for brussel sprouts cooked in duck fat with almonds and cranberries that sounds fantastic, and brussels sprouts are my least favorite vegetable!
Then Monday I needed to roast the thawed duck. Decided to just save the fat from the bottom of the roasting pan. Made dressing, mashed potatoes with turnips, and sauerkraut. Very tasty, but collecting the drippings from the roasted duck isn't the proper way to collect duck fat.
Rob emailed me from King Cole the day after I roasted the duck:
Thanks for your letter, we sure hope our standards exceed the industry averages!
Duck fat is a wonderful thing, and the best way to save it would be to start with raw fat and skin. This can be collected from the neck skin and the “leaf fat” that appears just inside the cavity. One duck may not yield enough to make it worthwhile, so (here comes the sales pitch) you may need to get a few ducks to get enough fat.
Then put the fat/skin in a heavy bottom sauce pan, add about 1/3 cup of water for 1 pound of fat and skin, and slowly heat it so it liquefies. This could take several hours, depending on the quantity. Leave the lid off to allow the water to evaporate, and stir occasionally. Strain into a solid container and refrigerate...it’s that simple! It will store for two months in the fridge.
Using the fat that collects in the bottom of the roasting pan as the duck cooks is not the best idea, as the fat will be “contaminated” with the salt and spices that you likely used when preparing the whole duck.
Alternatively you can purchase rendered fat online at: http://www.morethangourmet.com/ They have great products, I use them regularly. There is an interesting book on fat available through Amazon online: “Fat”, by Jennifer McLagan. She also has a book titled “Bones” but I haven’t read that one.
Good luck, and the best of the Season to you!
King Cole Ducks, Ltd
I hope Rob would be pleased that I made duck stock and used it in a lentil soup. Be assured I won't be slathering duck fat on Wonder bread, but plan to keep experimenting with it in cooking.
© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder