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Video:Cooking Duck: Pan-Seared Breast and Roasted Legs

with John Mitzewich

The best way to enjoy whole duck is to divide and conquer. By separating the breast, which is at it's juicy best pan-seared for a short time, and the legs, which and best slow-roasted and crisp, you are enjoying this bird at it's absolute finest.See Transcript

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Transcript:Cooking Duck: Pan-Seared Breast and Roasted Legs

Today we're making a duck dish called duck two ways. We're going to divide and conquer. Begin Carving the Duck So this is not really a recipe it's more of an idea. Don't cook a whole duck. Separate the breasts and thighs and you will have a much better product. That's a 5lb duck. I'm going to pull out that stupid popup thing. By the way your butcher will be more than happy to do this for you. But of you watch this demo you should be able to do it yourself, if you have a sharp boning knife.

Duck's Breast

You want to identify the breastbone, which is very pronounced on a duck. Another advantage is that the duck has a very flat breastbone. So it's very easy to take your knife and go right along that breast bone and right along that rib cage, and that breast is going to basically peel right off that duck. What I do when I get near the end is try and find where the leg and thigh start so I don't cut into that. That's the other part we're going to separate and cook. Once I've done that, I keep peeling and cutting with the knife angled toward the carcass so you don't lose any meat. And there is one liberated duck breast.

I'm going to take the skin off because it cooks more evenly and by the time the skin got crispy if I cooked it together, the duck would be over cooked. So there are my 2 boneless, skinless duck breasts. Reserve in fridge until later.

Duck Thighs

Now for the thighs; they are attached to the carcass at only 1 point, the hip joint. So trim around until you can see that hip joint. By bending the duck up you will dislocate the joint and it pops right out of the socket, and now there is nothing holding the thigh on. So simple cut around it and pull off that meat. Trim any excess fat and you will have 2 nice duck leg sections.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Season the Duck Legs

Take 6 sprigs of thyme, 2 garlic clove, I cut in half, I salt and peppered my duck and a tbsp of olive oil to moisten everything. I'm going to wrap that in some heavy-duty foil and I'm going to roast that very slowly for 1 1/2 hours, until it is fork tender. It's so delicious infused with the garlic and thyme. Now we need to crisp those up, so turn up the oven to 450F and put some new foil in the pan. I poured off all the fat. We're going to put those back in that hot oven for 15 minutes until the skin is crispy.

Cook the Duck Breast

While the legs are crisping up we're going to salt and pepper both sides of the duck breasts. And, on med-high heat we're going to sear those in a tbsp of olive oil for about 5-6 minutes per side. That will give us a nice medium. You can test with your finger like for a steak if you want. When those are done, and you can cook them longer if you wish (but best at medium!), remove and let them rest.

Serve the Duck

Our legs are now crispy, and the plate presentation is so simple. Take the quickly seared, juicy, succulent breast and combine it with that slow roasted and crispy duck leg - that is one of the great culinary experiences in the world. I served it very simply with some squash and a black currant gastrique, which you can also find on food.about.com.

Anyway that's our duck two-ways, with the breast and legs done separately. It's incredibly delicious; I hope you give it a try. Enjoy!
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