Whole Duck with Figs & Potatoes

How to Handle and Savour Duck
How-To's

How to butcher a whole duck

Step 1. Remove the neck & wing tips. Handling a whole duck is pretty much the same as chicken – a sharp knife or cleaver would suffice, and keep the scraps if you’d like to make a meaty, yummy broth. For now, let’s get to the cutting: begin by removing the duck’s neck, then trim the wing tips by slicing the joints

Step 2. Clear the excess skin & fat. Ducks have leaner meat but more fat than chicken. The fat is also where the duck’s rich flavour comes from. You don’t want to keep too much of it on a whole bird, though. When cooked, excess fat can get a little too chewy. Most of it is just under the skin, and you can remove them as you carve. But remember to be gentle so as to not disturb the skin too much, as it can wrinkle and shrink up when you cook. For starters, trim away the excess fat from the neck and cavity areas.

Step 3. Remove the legs. Next, cut one leg at a time. Grab a drumstick, pull out and stretch the leg, and slice gently through the taut skin between the leg and the duck’s body. Then flip the duck onto its side for the leg to face upward. Grab the leg with your thumb gripping the exposed flesh side, and hold the body against your cutting board with your other hand. Then, in your gripping hand, use your fingers to push the ball joint out of its socket, and pull with your thumb. Cut through the exposed joint to remove the leg. Flip over the duck and repeat with the second leg.

Step 4. Cut away the backbone. Hold up the duck with the neck area pressed against the cutting board, and the duck’s cavity facing up. Grip and pull the backbone down toward the board to crack it. Then cut the spine section at the rib cage area.

Step 5. Trim off the fat in the duck legs & backbone. The duck thighs have excess pockets of fat under the skin at the top and the bottom drumstick area. You can actually remove these with your hands. There’s also long pieces of excess skin at the lower duck leg quarters – trim these with your knife. Do leave enough skin to cover the meat. For the backbone, slit your knife under skin parallel to the bone and trim off the skin and fat. These scraps will enrich your duck broth’s flavour.

How to roast a whole duck

A basic roast is the simplest way to yummify a whole duck. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Pat the duck dry with a paper towel, then season the skin with salt. Keep the duck’s bottom cavity open so that it cooks evenly. Put the duck on your roasting tray and pop it in the oven. Roast till the skin turns crispy golden. Then let it rest for about 20 minutes, and cut to serve.