Falling in love with Duck (and Duck Fat)

November 23, 2011

I’m just going to put this out there…Duck fat is awesome. When used to roast goodies, it creates heavenly crisp parcels of pure potato perfection that really cannot be surpassed in brilliance by any other method.

So yeah, it’s amazing. It is also *sigh* horrendously bad for you. Pure animal fat, people. This does not a healthy ingredient make, and should explicitly be saved for special meals, like Christmas or your birthday. I have fond memories of my Mum using tins of duck fat to make to die for roasted potatoes on those special occasions. It was then that my appreciation for this ingredient began.

I might sound like I’m contradicting myself…”duck fat is amazing but don’t use it often”. I have actually received a few emails asking me how I balance eating as both a Dietitian and a foodie, and so I might just do a post on that topic in the future. But for now, let me just insist that duck fat is not an ingredient to use frequently, it’s just not. Eating well does not mean never indulging and it does not mean overly restricting your diet. No, healthy eating is about balance and knowing what the bulk of your diet should be made of. And that is not duck fat. Ok, now let’s move onto appreciating this superbly delectable dish for what it is.

…..

Last Saturday night my friend, Sarah, and I were watching an episode of Nigella Lawson, in all her sensuous glory. Nigella was making roasted duck and potatoes cooked in the fat of said duck (of course she was). I have never been a huge fan of duck when I’ve had it in the past, which was generally Asian-style duck. Yet there was one meal where I fell a little in love with the bird – it was last year at Bistro Vue (love) and the duck was slow cooked in an intoxicating French style. So as soon as I saw Nigella cooking her dish in a similar fashion I knew that I would adore it. And those potatoes…

Nigella’s recipe for Roasted Duck Legs and Potatoes is delightfully easy (link). She really is the Queen of such meals, isn’t she?

The cooking time and oven temperature had us a bit shocked, yet we followed the instructions diligently. Next time we will reduce the cooking time a little, as we really believed it to be a little keen and perhaps the cause of our slightly dry meat. But we are new to duck, so granted it may have been our inexperience. Thoughts? The potatoes were still divine though…how could they not be?

We served our duck and potatoes with green beans, which we sauteed with some garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

…..

A little bit fancy, seriously indulgent, positively simple and completely sumptuous. Oh, it made me want to put on some Jazz, run a hot bubble bath and sip port from a crystal glass – sorry, did I just type that? Have we published already? Ok, well that’s awkward. But it’s true. Duck (and duck fat) will do that to you.

Heidi xo
  • Michelle Chin November 23, 2011 at 7:33 am

    duck fat is indeed sinful.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) November 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

    oh. my. deliciousness!!!

  • Leah November 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

    roast potato in duck fat….YES PLEASE!!!

  • Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks November 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I've heard such great things about duck fat making the best roast potatoes. I'm so tempted to give it a try but I'll have to wait for a special ocassion. Your potatoes do look divine though, and I'm a HUGE potato fan lol.

  • Heidi November 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Michelle – well said πŸ˜‰

    Lisa – mmmhmmmm

    Leah – !!!!! so with you πŸ™‚

    Apple – well you will just LOVE these πŸ™‚ yes, do make them for a special occasion!

    Heidi xo

  • xoCATox November 23, 2011 at 11:58 am

    YUM!!! When I was in Paris, I had confit de canard for pretty much every lunch/dinner!

    Duck, poached in its own fat, served with lots of soft buttered bread and fried potatoes. My arteries did not love me, but my tastebuds were in absolute BLISS! πŸ™‚

  • Lisa November 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I'm not bragging or anything but my Mum makes the BEST duck – and she renders off the fat for special occasions, nothing makes better potatoes than duck fat.

    Anyway, on cooking temperatures and times, I think her recommendation would be to put the duck into a very hot oven, but then turn it down to something more like 160-180. That way you render the fat and crisp the skin but have the lower temperature to make the meat tender.

    Yummo, I want duck now!

  • Heidi November 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Cat – oooh sounds amazing, the real deal in Paris. Will definitely be having some when I go next (honeymoon!!)

    Lisa – yes, brilliant, thanks for your awesome tip!!! I really appreciate it. Will definitely give that a go. That's how mum does her pork, so yes, makes total sense πŸ™‚

    Heidi xo

  • Hannah November 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    mmmm! Although I probably wouldn't eat duck anytime soon, I did used to have Chinese style duck when we'd go out for big family dinners. And it was always delicious & rich! And those duck pancakes with shallot & hoisin sauce…they're quite amazing πŸ™‚ x

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Haha the lovely Nigella really is the queen of these indulgently delicious dishes isn't she! πŸ™‚

  • Hannah November 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    You know how much I'm applauding the sentiment of this post right now! And not just because this is definitely something Mrs Darcy nee Bennett would have loved πŸ˜‰

  • Heidi November 24, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Hannah – ahh yes, peking duck pancakes are verrrry popular!

    Lorraine – oh indeed, she truly is (love!) πŸ™‚

    Hannah – I knew you'd get me πŸ™‚ & yes! It's totally a Miss Bennett dish, I should really do a tribute meal to her. I have a cookbook centred on Jane Austin, must make something from it. Although all the dishes seem a little…stodgy and bland and…boiled… :S

    Heidi xo

  • Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan November 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I'm not sure which is better – duck fat or pork fat but it sure does create one hell of a dilemma!!

  • msihua November 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Duck fat, bacon and butter. Three essential things to make me a very happy woman πŸ™‚

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed November 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Chopin – hahaha

    Msihua – is that so πŸ™‚

    Heidi xo

  • Hannah November 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    My mum and grandma belong to the Jane Austen society, and for a time I did (we got in the national JAS newsletter for being the only group with three generations in it πŸ˜› ) so I bet you've got the same cookbook my mum has. They have potluck lunches every year πŸ™‚

  • Iron Chef Shellie November 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Ahhhh duck fat… not buying that stuff unless I'm cooking up a feast for a group of people. It's no way to help me get to my goal weight!

  • Heidi November 27, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Hannah – OMG that sounds incredible!!!! Jealous! I went to the Jane Austin Centre in Bath, it was wonderful πŸ™‚

    Michele – oh deary no it isn't haha. Great work, lovely xo

    Heidi xo

  • Winnie November 29, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Duck fat is indeed awesome. Love cooking potatoes in it πŸ™‚