Head over to dartagnan.com and get free standard FedEx shipping on your order over $125 – today only!
Duckspotting is snapping & sending in pics of dishes from your favorite restaurants, made with D'Artagnan ingredients! We supply restaurants all over the country & love to see what creative chefs are doing with our...Read more
In the history of world cuisine, French chefs have been accused of being many things, but rarely ever “shy.” The French tradition holds dear the notion of not only using every part of an animal, leaving nothing edible to waste, but also of celebrating certain dishes that that often make more squeamish diners fold their napkins away and politely excuse themselves from the table.
There’s foie gras, of course, the production of which is abhorred by many and cherished by many more (us included, obviously). And then we have the ortolan, a small songbird that, due to the traditional preparation — it is gorged on grains, drowned in Armagnac and then roasted, served, and consumed in a single mouthful– has become illegal in France, although many intrepid diners continue to find gastronomic speakeasies that continue to serve it.
But one of our absolute favorite dishes — and kitchen implements — is the much lauded and feared duck press. Considered by many to be the most spectacular entree in classical French cuisine, the duck press is a device and method of preparation that was invented by a man named Machenet in Paris at the dawn of the 19th century, quickly becoming popular among the culinarily elite. The contraption, and its corresponding dish, canard à la rouennaise (or, “duck in blood sauce”) was later adopted by Chef Frèdèric of the restaurant La Tour d’ Argent (or “Silver Tower”), making it his restaurant’s signature dish, which they continue to serve today.
So, what is this infamous dish often labeled as barbaric and macabre? It begins simply, with one of our favorite things in the world: a roasted duck. The whole duck — and this includes all of the internal organs, particularly the heart and lungs of the beast, though the liver is removed and reserved — is seasoned, the skin lightly scored, and then roasted. Some chefs, including Daniel Boulud, opt to marinate the duck for up to two days before roasting quickly over very high heat, until the duck is appropriately rare. The beautifully roasted bird is carried by the chef to the diners’ table, where the rest of the elaborate process continues in full view of the restaurant’s guests. The duck’s magret (breasts) and legs are removed and reserved, and the chef uses poultry shears to cut the remaining carcass in half lengthwise.
Now comes the fun part.
The chef packs the roasted carcass and internal organs into the duck press, a large, squat, menacing piece of kitchen machinery, usually made from a heavy metal such as brass, with a large crank, a wheel, and four legs that are sometimes, in a delightfully morbid fashion, made to look like duck feet. Many people like to compare the object to a medieval torture device, and, if you get a chance to see one, you’d be hard “pressed” do disagree. The increasing pressure of the crank plate compacts the bird until its bones are pulverized, the organs liquified, and the carcass blood juices out of the animal, all of which sluice through a small spout in the duck press and are collected in a pan, then strained through a fine chinois.
The chef then thickens the mixture with the pureed duck liver, adds Cognac and red wine, and reduces it carefully until it achieves a deep burgundy, almost black color. Diners are then treated to thin slices of the duck breast in the exquisite blood sauce, followed by a second course of roasted duck legs and thighs.
Duck presses aren’t easy or inexpensive to come by these days, though our friends Chef David Burke and Chef Daniel Boulud both use them. While pressed duck isn’t nearly as popular as it was in nineteenth-century Paris, the tradition of the duck press — whether or not you consider it macabre or sublime — continues. And for that, we are most certainly thankful.
As you might expect, there are quite a few duck recipes on our website. From the meaty breast of the mighty moulard duck to a tender leg of duck confit, we love it all. If you are stuck on duck like us, have a gander at this selection of recipes. And enjoy this video of Sara Moulton and Ariane demonstrating how super easy it is to sear a duck breast for dinner. Duck breast is the new steak, after all.
This simple and refreshing duck salad makes a cooling first course or light lunch. The tangy lime vinaigrette is tempered by rich duck and a drizzle of sweet, Thai-style sauce.
YIELD: 2 AS A MAIN COURSE, 4 AS A STARTER
2 duck leg confit
1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 head bibb lettuce, chopped
½ English cucumber, sliced into thin batons
1 handful mung bean sprouts
2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Sesame seeds, to garnish
FOR THE SAUCE
½ cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 thai chiles, finely minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
FOR THE DRESSING
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 small Thai chiles, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Make the sauce: Combine ingredients in small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce reaches a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
2. Broil the duck legs until skin is browned and crispy, and meat is heated through. Carefully remove from the bones and shred.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Add lettuces, mung beans, cucumber and herbs. Toss to coat. Divide salad between two plates. Top with shredded duck. Drizzle a little of the reserved sauce over the duck. Garnish with sesame seeds.
The green Picholine olives in Chef Daniel Boulud’s braised duck provide juicy bites of tart, salty flavor.
4-6 moulard duck legs, about 3 lbs
Coarsely-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 pound applewood smoked bacon, sliced, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 small onions, peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 small turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 cup green Picholine olives, pitted
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
1.The night before you plan to serve the dish, place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the duck legs and sear until golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the duck to a platter. Pour off the excess fat from the pot. Return the duck to the pot along with the bacon and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon out any fat out of the pot. Add the carrots, onions, turnips, olives, thyme, and bay leaf, and pour in the stock. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise, covered, for 2 hours, until the duck is tender. Chill overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the layer of fat from the top of the sauce and heat the duck in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf and serve.
Heady Chinese five spice and a sticky-sweet sauce spiked with star anise make a wonderful complement to rich duck breast.
4 duck magret half-breasts
2 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 star anise, broken in half
8 baby bok choi
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced on the bias
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
¾ cup duck and veal demi-glace
2 tsp honey
Steamed Rice, for serving
1. With a sharp paring knife, score the fat of each duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern, making sure not to cut into the meat. In a small bowl, mix together five spice, salt and pepper. Rub the duck breasts with the spice mixture. Heat a heavy frying pan over high flame. When hot, add the duck breasts skin-side down. Turn the heat down to medium and and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skin is very crisp and brown and the fat has rendered from under the skin. Tip out any excess fat. Turn the breasts over and add the star anise to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the duck breasts feel firm to the touch but not too solid – you want them pink in the middle. Take the duck out and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
2. To the same pan, over medium high heat, add the demi-glace, soy sauce, and honey, stirring to combine and, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the bok choy and scallions. Cook, turning to coat, until the bok choy is cooked through but not soggy.
3. Serve duck breasts over rice with steamed bok choy. Spoon sauce over the top.
YIELD: 4 SANDWICHES
This recipe, from the excellent Blue Ribbon Cookbook, is the Bromberg Brother’s twist on a classic club sandwich using flavorful duck instead of turkey. We consider it lunch heaven in the palms of your hands.
4 Muscovy duck breasts, about 8 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
12 slices raisin bread, toasted
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the duck breasts in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful not to cut the meat. Season generously. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Sear the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin browns and the fat renders, about 8 minutes. Place the duck, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest and cool. Once cooled, slice very thin against the grain.
3.To assemble the sandwich, spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise on each of 4 slices of toast and sprinkle with half of the bacon. Divide the lettuce evenly among the breast slices then top each with half of the sliced duck. Top with second layer of toast and spread the remaining mayonnaise over the slices. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon. Top with tomato, onion, and the remaining duck. Cover the sandwiches with the remaining slices of toast, cut into quarters and serve with your favorite potato chips.
You lucky duck. No sooner did Charc Week end … and now there’s a special deal on all things duck at dartagnan.com.
Enjoy 20% off duck all week. But do it before Sunday, September 14 at midnight EST.
Charcuterie is a dish that is often served cold. It’s the simplest way to go. A board spread with cheeses and cured meats along with a bottle of wine. Instant party.
However, charcuterie can be used in recipes. Think bacon. Yes, bacon is charcuterie. Smoked, cured and cooked meats all fall into the category. Sausages, too. So you already cook with charcuterie.
Here are a few of our favorite charcuterie recipes. Get cooking and enjoy 15% off all charcuterie during Charc Week at dartagnan.com.
Just the addition of smoked duck breast makes a salad a meal, as in this smoked duck and cherry salad.
And there are plenty more charcuterie recipes on our site. Enjoy the exploration.
Our jambon de Bayonne is made right here in the United States, and some would argue that the use of “Bayonne,” as in the AOC, is all kinds of wrong. Ariane was well aware of this when she began making the product in the early days of D’Artagnan. Of course, she could see Bayonne from her office window… Bayonne, NJ, that is. Using the same simple, centuries-old dry-curing technique that made this ham famous in France, our domestic version may break rules, but it satisfies jambon cravings.
Try it wrapped around figs, melon or pear slices. Sandwiched in a baguette with mustard. On a charcuterie board with cheese.
Buy it now and save 15% off at dartagnan.com during our Charc Week celebration – when all charcuterie is 15% off. The sale ends Sept. 7 at midnight EST.
Whole books have been devoted to the subject. Techniques have been handed down through the generations, and different cultures have distinct charcuterie traditions. So what is this mysterious “charcuterie”? Pronounced shahr-kyut-uh-ree it is a French word that comes from chair “flesh” and cuit “cooked.” It refers to cooked, cured or smoked meats such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, rillettes, galantines, pâtés and dry-cured sausage. Charcuterie has been considered a French culinary art since at least the 15th century. The specialized store in France is also called a charcuterie and will have confits, foie gras and a selection of ready-to-eat dishes.
Germans sell their cured meats at a delicatessen, and Italians purvey salumi in a salumeria. In America many of the Italian salumi products are familiar, such as prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, sopressata and mortadella. If you’ve ever eaten antipasto you already know about charcuterie. Been to the deli and ordered a liverwurst sandwich? How about a cold cut sandwich? Both are charcuterie. Even baloney is charcuterie.
Spain is legendary for dry-aged aging hams from heritage breed pigs. Germany is noted for the frankfurter and Braunschweiger, among a myriad of sausages produced there. Poland offers the smoked kielbasa. And in the United States there are many that swear by the flavor of smoked and cured Virginia ham. Call it what you will, charcuterie is universal.
Food traditions are often best understood in the context of history. With charcuterie it’s necessary to go back to the origins of Homo sapiens. Since every culture preserves meat in some form, it appears to be a foundational element of human survival. Imagine hunting, gathering and having to eat everything before it spoiled. This process would ensure a nomadic lifestyle and subsistence diet. However, if you could store food for later, you might settle down, build a shelter and put in roots. Since the origins of cooking meat are lost in our prehistoric past, it’s only conjecture that early man might have hung fresh meat near the fire to protect it, and discovered that it cured over the smoke and tasted quite good the next day.
Whenever it was that humans started to cook and cure meat, it has not stopped since. Sausage recipes date to before the golden age of ancient Greece, and traditional sausages have been made for over 2000 years in both Rome and France. The Romans set standards for raising, killing and cooking pigs, and they regulated the process. Centuries ago, Germanic tribesmen made fortunes selling salted hams made from acorn-fattened boars that were hunted in dense forests. But charcuterie really comes into its own in France during the Middle Ages.
In France, pigs were raised by virtually every household and slaughtered when the chill of autumn took hold, to fill the larders for the winter with lovely bacon, ham, potted pork and lard. To this day in the French countryside the pig slaughter and resulting day of cooking that follows is taken on as a communal ritual. And no part of the pig is wasted, from the intestines to the hooves.
Today, in the United States there is plenty of old-world style charcuterie available, both in restaurants and stores, and DIYers are rediscovering the joy of making charcuterie at home.
Just like a cheese board, a charcuterie platter is an ideal way to serve a party and please all palates. Arranging a charcuterie board is easy. It should have a range of items representing the various styles of preparation from cooked to dry-cured. The meats should be complemented by something acidic, like cornichons (tiny French pickles). Whole-grain mustard makes a nice accompaniment, as do olives or even black truffle butter. Allow two ounces per person, and serve with a rustic country bread, or good quality, plain crackers. A hearty red wine (but not too heavy) will make a good accompaniment, such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas or Madiran.
A charcuterie board might display:
Pâté de Campagne is a rustic, coarse pork pâté and is a staple in France
Pheasant Terrine Herbette, another coarse pâté made of pheasant, pork and fennel
In the dry-cured family Jambon de Bayonne, a thinly-sliced pork product is perfect
Saucisson sec is a dry-cured sausage, similar to salami, made of pork or sometimes wild boar
Mousse Truffée is a spreadable turkey/chicken liver mousse with black truffles
Smoked duck breast is air cured and smoked over natural wood
All week we will revel in the glory of charcuterie – and we’re calling it Charc Week.
And you get to enjoy 15% off all things smoked, cooked and cured at dartagnan.com. Please share your charcuterie stories, pictures or anything charcuterie related with us on Twitter and Facebook – be sure to use the hashtag #CharcWeek.
#CharcWeek ends Sunday, September 7 at midnight EST.
You don’t have to double check – this is the D’Artagnan blog, and you did just read the word “salad.” We are known as hardcore carnivores, but we are hungry omnivores with an appreciation for a well-composed salad. As long as there is some meat on it.
And it’s summer – the perfect time to try one of our favorite salads, like this smoked duck and cherry salad that serves beautifully as a cold supper on a hot night.
While this salad is perfect for brunch, it could easily satisfy as a dinner. The winning combination of bacon and eggs works well on a bed of asparagus.
A somewhat less traditional salad, with the frisée and romaine lettuces lightly browned in butter, makes a delicious surprise. Then the salad dressing is stirred in the hot pan. Now that is a salad! Watch Marcus Samuelsson demonstrate the technique in this video with Ariane. The rich red meat of squab deserves a bed of salad like this. Did we mention the plums wrapped in bacon? Oh, yeah.
A yearlong favorite, the simplest salad of all: duck confit shredded and served atop your favorite greens. Our recipe has an Asian flair, but you can dress the salad with a basic vinaigrette as well, with equally satisfying results. Get the confit crispy under the broiler for maximum effect.
While it seems minimal, this salad of thinly-sliced cucumbers offers a refreshing crunch when paired with lamb. Is is salad? We will allow it.