Thursday, April 14, 2011

What do I do with THIS?

In January, I undertook a new challenge. An Iron Chef Challenge. My friend Ott, A. over at A Latte with Ott, A was running an Iron Chef Challenge for all her bloggy friends. And the theme for January was duck! I love duck! I had only cooked it once before, a whole roast duck, and I loved that I had an excuse to try it again!

So I hit the cookbooks, and found a recipe for duck breast that looked yummy. Off to the local grocery store, where there was no duck breast to be found. Only a whole duck.


Okay, so scrap the duck breast recipe, and look for a recipe that used the whole duck. I had done a whole roasted duck before, so I wanted to try something different.

I am a huge Alton Brown fan, and have yet to try a recipe from him that I didn’t like, so I cruised the Food Network website to find an AB recipe I could try. Oh, and did I find one! Mighty Duck! (Who can resist with a name like that?)

The problem? This is not a recipe for a whole duck. This is a recipe for a quartered duck. But I didn’t have a quartered duck… I had a whole duck!

Lucky for me, AB gives detailed directions on how to quarter a whole duck.

Lucky for you, I took pictures while I quartered my duck!

(Although AB says “a chicken is not a duck,” this technique will also work for a chicken, or a turkey, or whatever other kind of poultry you’re trying to quarter. Just substitute your poultry of choice wherever you see the word “duck.”)

Start with a thawed duck (sorry for stating the obvious here, but, hey, you never know!), and assemble the rest of your tools. You will need: a large cutting board, kitchen shears, and a large knife. I also had a cheat sheet. Unwrap your duck, and take out the giblets and the pop up timer (if there is one). Rinse off the duck so it is clean and shiny.

Put the duck on your cutting board, breast side down, and use your kitchen shears to cut off the wings. (Now he just looks sad.)

Pull the big flap of neck skin out of the way. (You can cut it off if you want to.) Using your kitchen shears again, cut through the ribs on either side of the backbone. Start from the neck and work your way back. When you’ve got the backbone free from the ribs and the meat, take it out.

Now put the duck breast side up on your cutting board. You should be able to spread it out so it’s kind of flat.

Again, with the kitchen shears, cut the duck in half, right down the middle of the breast bone. Now you should have two halves of a duck.

Next we need to separate the legs from the breasts. You should be able to see a division between the leg and the breast where there is not much meat. Use your big knife to make a crescent-shaped cut around the top of the leg. (We’re keeping the thigh and the drumstick together here, so don’t worry about separating those two parts.)

Do this step again for the other half, and, voila! Quartered duck! Great job!!

Just in case this didn’t get you quite the information you need, or if you want the details on how “a chicken is not a duck,” Alton Brown has a fantastic video detailing the entire process, with a chicken. Although, really, even if you are an expert in breaking down a chicken, this video is worth watching, for pure entertainment value alone! “Quoth the chicken, ‘fry some more!’”

You gotta love anyone who incorporates great literature into fried chicken! Oh, and the pan-fried chicken recipe is wonderful, too, although it’s just teased in the video. (If you want to skip right to the meat of the matter, the breaking down demonstration starts around 3:50 into the video clip.)

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