Ducks – or, if they are under two months old, ducklings – come in a variety of breeds and sizes, anything from 2 lb (900 g), to 7 lb (3.2 kg) at Easter and Christmas.
Everyone associates Aylesbury with ducks, which is where production in this country used to be centred, but now most commercial ducks come from Lincolnshire and Norfolk and are very distant descendants of the original Aylesbury breed. The majority come oven-ready, weighing 4-5 lb (1.8-2.25 kg), and will feed four people.
Barbary ducks, a French breed, are fairly widely available in this country. They are usually three months old and can be anything from 3 to 7 lb (1.35 to 3.2 kg), depending on whether they’re male or female (the males are much bigger). They are less fatty than other birds and quite meaty.
In my opinion the very best type of duck available at the moment is a breed developed in England called Gressingham, and it’s a cross between Pekin and the wild mallard. The result is a bird with a rich, gamey flavour and, although sometimes smaller (3 lb-5 lb 8 oz/1.35-2.45 kg), it has a lighter frame and therefore has as much meat on it as a conventional bird twice its weight.
Want to know how to carve a duck? Just click here to find out.
This is one of my favourite starters: a terrine of tiny shreds of tender, succulent duck melded together like a pâté, then served with the dazzling depth of colour and sharpness of a confit of cranberries to counteract the richness.
This is it – the best method of roasting duck I've found to date, and of all the lovely sauces, this one – made with dried sour cherries – is the loveliest.
Allow four weeks for the flavours of this confit to develop fully… a French classic that would make a good special-occasion dish as, once it's ready, you just need to cook it in the oven for 25 minutes.
Delia's delicious take on duck a l'orange brings this retro favourite bang up to date with the sharp, tangy flavour of Seville orange marmalade a great foil for the richness of the duck...
Since starting the How to Cook series I have at last hit on the very best way to get really crisp roast duck. If you've got a Gressingham duck then you'll have lots to eat as well as a really superb flavour.
I’m not very horticulturally minded but rhubarb is, I think, technically, a vegetable. But since the richness of duck is always complemented by something sweet and acidic, rhubarb is absolutely perfect.
This is perfect for New Year's Eve or any other celebration meal as you prepare it well in advance then, on the night, simply put it into the oven to heat through. The sour cherry sauce is sensational!
Ring the changes with this sumptuous pate - perfect for Christmas or any other special occasion.
This superb recipe gives you the crunchy, crisp skin of Chinese-style duck, but retains the moistness of the rich meat inside. Add a wonderful sour cherry sauce and you have a meal fit for a king!