At the End of the Day.

A duck is not necessarily out of the question

Given the mostly bollocks-ridden coverage of the Great Meltdown at the moment, I thought I’d make ATEOTD a foodie piece tonight. This may strike you as insensitive, but my theme this evening is how to get right through Crash 2 and out the other side without compromising any of your standards about food being fresh, and tasting nice. Duano y Duanetha may well starve because pizzas become unaffordable (and thanks to Harman, they never learned sexist cooking skills at the Jacob Zuma Comprehensive) but this is not my concern here.

Duck at the moment is on offer at most supermarkets. The problem with it as a whole bird is that it’s well-nigh impossible to cook it and get all the different bits right. For while even outdoors organic caviar-fed chicken will generally potter about and feel good (free from the knowledge that a butcher’s knife awaits) your mallard still has wings that work and – while often farmed now – is still built gentically to flap about a lot. This makes its legs and wings very tough, and its breasts at the very least hardwearing.

But a whole Gressingham duck on sale at half-price (as they are in Tesco at the moment)  is several meals available at the very reasonable price of around eight quid. All you need to do is sharpen a big kitchen knife, and cut it into bits.

Duck consists of the following useful elements: breasts, wings, legs, fat, and bits for making broth as the basis of duck soup.

Breasts: these are known by the French as magrets. Look at the duck you’ve purchased, and you’ll see there’s a flat side, and a hump. The hump consists of the magrets. Cut down between the ribs, and then cut the ribs away from the magrets. Whack them in the freezer, and grill them around the time when your instinct says “I just fancy magret de canard”….after defrosting, of course. Sorry, but I don’t want to get into trouble with Health & Safety.

With the flat side upwards, you will note that at the end nearest to you, there are two plump bits, probably with the feet cut off. Slice around the edges of them, and with a judicious use of force when it comes to the end bones, you should be able to detach them from the rest of the carcass.These are the legs. Set them aside. At the far end are two smaller, thinner bits where the wings were. Do the same with these.

While you are hacking away up to your elbows in all this flesh and offal, you will find it almost impossible to miss the quite disgusting amounts of white fat. Shave all of it off every bit of the bird that’s left, and place it in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Have a heat-resistent receptacle handy, and as the liquid fat builds up, pour it into said receptacle.

You will be left with an unprepossessing collection of duck spine, ribs, shoulder blades and arse. Bung these in a saucepan with some vegetable stock, and again over a low to medium heat, put a lid on the collection. This is the stock.

Allow the liquid fat to cool. While it’s doing this, bung the legs and wings into a pan of boiling water, switch off the heat after about five minutes, and let it all sit there. Ignore the whingeing of the wife who asks for the umpteenth time why men have to make such a mess in the kitchen, open a bottle of 2006 Cahors, and drink copiously.

Take the legs from the water and find two plastic freezer bags. Plonk a leg in each and then put half of the cooled fat into each leg-bag. Squeeze the air out, knot the bag, and then wave it above your head to ensure the legs are fully covered by fat. Put them in the freezer, and wait until you feel like confit de cuisse de canard in a week or two. Look up the recipe, and die of enjoyment.

Take the wing bones out, and soak in a marinade of whatever takes your fancy. My own favourite is olive oil, balsamic, sweet chilli dip, and soy sauce. Cover the container you’ve chosen in cling film, and leave it in the  fridge for 24 hours. Take out and roast until crispy, with a little boiled rice and a few spring onions. Faint with pleasure.

Take the bits from the broth, and discard them into whatever form of recycling your local council says you must put them in this week. Let the liquid cool, and then put in the fridge. Next day, scrape off the fat from the surface of the liquid, and freeze the broth until a duck soup moment seizes you. Find duck soup recipe, and make. I have yet to make a success of duck soup, but there’s always next time.

So, for eight quid you’ve got four meals to satisfy two per sitting. This is not exactly Marie Antoinette living, and thus there need be no guilt at all. Indeed, so addictive is multi-purpose duck, you may find yourself purchasing a gun and poaching duck from the local estate’s pond mallards. You will find this makes the resultant meal taste even better.