Author Topic: The Duck Cycle  (Read 1100 times)

seattleite

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The Duck Cycle
« on: April 01, 2019, 06:15:14 PM »
I originally wrote this in January of 2008 for my (now dead) blog. I figure it's pretty mustachian so I will post it here. It's cool to me how mustachian I was back then before I even through that FI/RE was possible.


Those who I talk to on a regular basis know how much I've fallen in love with duck. It's so much more flavorful than chicken and it's a regular ingredient in Charcuterie. Buying whole ducks is economical and provides a lot of variety in dishes. This weekend I went through my third duck cycle, this time with three ducks from Milford, Indiana. I paid an average of $15 for each duck and out of those three ducks I got:

* 6 legs for confit
* 6 breasts for duck prosciutto, alderwood smoked duck ham, or a thousand other uses
* 33 cups of duck stock
* Several cups of duck fat (first used for the confit, then used in place of other fats for various dishes)
* 3 livers for a whimpy fois-gras-like snack
* Some cracklins that I haven't yet figured out how to use

This is my second confit attempt and I can confidently say that it takes a good two days to finish. It takes two days whether you do 1 duck or 10. I decided to try it with three ducks this time. It cost me $45 for the three ducks. I spent just about an hour butchering them (I'm still very slow, and scared to wield the cleaver).

Before I started the butchering I made the brine and placed it outside to cool. When I was done butchering, I submerged the breasts into the brine and placed it into the refrigerator. I then rubbed the legs with the dry cure and placed them into the refrigerator.

Now it was time for the fat and the bits and pieces. I put the fat into a pot with a half cup of water and put it on low heat for ~4 hours to render the fat. I also filled two large stockpots with the bits and pieces from the carcass and water and simmered them for ~4 hours. In the end I had several cups of duck fat and 33 cups of duck stock (enough for 15 two-person soups)!

I woke up earlier the next morning realizing that I had forgotten to remove the brining breasts at midnight. Damn! Well, they'll probably be a little saltier that I'd like, but oh well. So I washed them off, patted them dry and placed them on a drying rack in the refrigerator. Now it was time for the confit. I washed off the cure, patted them dry, and placed them in a dutch oven with the fat that I had rendered the previous night. I try to give the legs 12 hours to poach in their own fat, they are still there in the oven as I type. After 4 hours of drying I removed the duck breasts from the refrigerator, started some coals on my regular Weber grill, added some waterlogged alterwood chips to the coals (for the smoke), and hot smoked the breasts until they reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees (I love probe thermometers). OMG, it turned out great.

I'm not really sure how to calculate the total cost of each meal so let's do the simple thing and make each meal equal in cost. The ducks were $45. The energy and water used couldn't have been more than a couple dollars and it might be about the same cost for the spices (probably a lot less). So let's say it was $50 for the entire duck cycle (I'm not counting the cost of my time). From that I have the base for 21 two-person dinners (3 duck confit, 3 duck ham, 15 soup). That comes out to $2.38 per meal, a tad over a dollar per person! To be fair, these aren't full meals, but they should be the most expensive component of each meal.

Bateaux

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2019, 06:41:32 AM »
I like duck.  Especially duck gumbo.  I actually thought this was going to be about renewable energy daily electrical demand.

Freedomin5

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2019, 06:52:55 AM »
I also like duck. Especially Hong Kong style roast duck. Id never be able to make it on my own though, so kudos to you.

dsw

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2019, 07:11:08 AM »
I originally wrote this in January of 2008 for my (now dead) blog. I figure it's pretty mustachian so I will post it here. It's cool to me how mustachian I was back then before I even through that FI/RE was possible.


Those who I talk to on a regular basis know how much I've fallen in love with duck. It's so much more flavorful than chicken and it's a regular ingredient in Charcuterie. Buying whole ducks is economical and provides a lot of variety in dishes. This weekend I went through my third duck cycle, this time with three ducks from Milford, Indiana. I paid an average of $15 for each duck and out of those three ducks I got:

* 6 legs for confit
* 6 breasts for duck prosciutto, alderwood smoked duck ham, or a thousand other uses
* 33 cups of duck stock
* Several cups of duck fat (first used for the confit, then used in place of other fats for various dishes)
* 3 livers for a whimpy fois-gras-like snack
* Some cracklins that I haven't yet figured out how to use

. . .

Put some cayenne on the cracklins and eat them! They don't last long around me.

I've been trying something similar to what you describe, but not at the same scale. I never leave myself enough time so I don't wind up doing the duck liver pate bit. I did try duck rillettes recently and those turned out good.

Do you have any recipes to share? It looks like you've got this figured out pretty well and I'd love to know more. This is the kind of thing I would do a lot more of if the job didn't get in the way.

seattleite

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2019, 10:50:12 AM »
Do you have any recipes to share? It looks like you've got this figured out pretty well and I'd love to know more. This is the kind of thing I would do a lot more of if the job didn't get in the way.

Ruhlman's Charcuterie was the main source of inspiration. There are recipes for duck prosciutto, smoked duck ham, and duck confit. Honestly, if we look around a bit I bet we can find the recipes without needing the book.

fuzzy math

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2019, 11:22:37 AM »
Ive heard duck is very greasy. Never tried it.

If you live in a big city I can see ducks being expensive. You can mail order chicks for probably $2 or so if you're willing to raise them. I raise chickens for eggs and we've had to butcher a few for medical reasons but never ate them (sketchy medical reasons made us unsure of their safety).  Did you butcher them immediately after purchase?

dsw

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Re: The Duck Cycle
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2019, 12:58:18 PM »
Do you have any recipes to share? It looks like you've got this figured out pretty well and I'd love to know more. This is the kind of thing I would do a lot more of if the job didn't get in the way.

Ruhlman's Charcuterie was the main source of inspiration. There are recipes for duck prosciutto, smoked duck ham, and duck confit. Honestly, if we look around a bit I bet we can find the recipes without needing the book.

I was looking up duck prosciutto a little earlier. It looks fantastic, and maybe not that difficult to do. I may need to try this soon.