Saveur (December 1999)
So we bought an entire duck for our recent meal of Risotto with Duck and White Balsamic Vinegar. The recipe only called for duck breasts, but we were surprised to discover that it was easier to find a whole duck for sale than duck breasts.
But we were kind of excited, too. Buying a whole duck meant we could try something we'd always been meaning to do: rendering duck fat.
The process of melting down duck fat turned out to be extremely easy. We followed this handy recipe from a 1999 issue of Saveur, but you don't even really need a recipe at all. Simply remove all the skin and fat from the carcass of the duck, cut the skin and fat into small pieces and place them in a stockpot. Cover with a half cup of water and boil on medium heat for an hour.
As you can see, the transformation is almost like magic. The fatty pieces transform from white, fleshy, meaty chunks to crispy little nubbins. The liquid morphs from watery foam to a gorgeous amber color.
And -- according to Saveur at least -- that's not even the best part.
We just stored it in a glass jar in the fridge. If what we read online is to be believed, it should be fine in there for up to a year.
And what's the best part, according to Saveur? You end up with a big batch of cracklings. You can sprinkle salt and snack on the little fried crispies.
Honestly, we didn't love the cracklings. If you're someone who likes pork rinds, but you wish they were just a liiiiittle heavier and a tad greasier, then you'll love duck cracklings (duck rinds?).
Basically, you can use it the same way you'd use butter or olive oil. (If you care, it's actually healthier for you than butter.)
And duck-fat fries are supposed to be legendary.
Hmm...maybe we're gonna need to get another duck...
Rendered Duck Fat
MAKES ABOUT 1 1⁄3 CUPS
The great thing about rendering your own duck fat is that you end up with a batch of cracklings—delicious to snack on, sprinkled with salt.
Skin and fat from 1 whole duck, avoid tail and neck areas
1. Cut skin and fat into medium pieces and put into a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Add 1⁄2 cup water and simmer over medium heat until water evaporates and skin pieces are crisp and have released all their fat, about 1 hour.
2. Strain clear golden fat through a sieve. Store duck fat in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.