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.
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