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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Cooking: Deep-Fried Duck

A well-seasoned duck that's crispy on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside makes for a memorable meal
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By Scott Leysath

Whether frying is your standard fare or a guilty pleasure, there's no denying that deep-fried foods taste good. Paired with my tangy dipping sauces, this recipe is higher in flavor than it is in fat.

Just about any oil will hold up to a few fried ducks, but oils with a higher smoke point—such as peanut, canola, or safflower—can be reused three or four times if you strain out most of the solids between uses. Peanut oil is typically the favorite choice for frying, but it is also among the most expensive. 

Make sure you use a large, heavy pot that's deep enough to immerse whole ducks in the oil (see recipe instructions). You should also have an oil thermometer handy so you'll know when the proper cooking temperature has been reached. If you don't have one, drop a few breadcrumbs into the hot oil. If they sizzle and bubble, you're good to go. If the oil gets so hot that it begins to smoke it will overcook the outside of the bird before the inside is done. 

An added word of caution: If your ducks have been brined, make sure they are completely dry—inside and out—before you fry them. Placing wet ducks in hot oil will cause the oil to bubble up over the top of the pot and make a mess, and could even start a fire.

Deep-Fried Ducks

Preparation Time: about 20 minutes  
Cooking Time: 3 minutes for teal, 8 minutes for mallards


Directions

Step 1. Heat the oil to 360 degrees in a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven, leaving a 4- to 6-inch gap between the oil and the top of the pot. 

Step 2. Pat the ducks dry and season them liberally with salt and pepper. 

Step 3. Place the ducks, 1 or 2 at a time, in the oil and fry until brown. Drain on paper towels.

Step 4. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper over the ducks. 

Step 5. Remove the meat from the carcass, slice, and serve with a dipping sauce or two.


Here are two of my favorite simple dipping sauces:

Sweet and Hot Mustard Sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
Directions

Combine all ingredients.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (from jar, oil- or water-packed), drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Directions

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. While the motor is running on low speed, add the oil in a thin stream until emulsified. 


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