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Any one of over 40 species of web–footed saltwater or freshwater birds that have been domesticated (probably by the Chinese) for over 2,000 years. Their meat is dark, moist and richly flavoured, and because of its high fat content, is often served with fruit to offset its richness. Duck is popular in France, where it may be prepared as duck a l’orange and duck confit, and in China, as Peking duck, a traditional dish that produces a crisp skin and takes many hours to prepare. Breeds of duck vary according to country, although many domesticated ducks are descended from the mallard. In England, Aylesbury and Gressingham ducks are popular; in America, Long Island and Peking ducks; and in France, Nantes, Rouen and Barbary or Muscovy ducks are preferred. The mulard, a cross between a Nantes and a Barbary, is used for foie gras. Wild ducks are also available in some areas, the best are the freshwater varieties. Duck is sold cooked, fresh or frozen. Both domestic and wild ducks are available, but their flavour and texture varies hugely. As a general rule, remember that farmed ducks, unlike chickens, and because of their aquatic habitat, put down fat before they put down flesh. A younger bird of any breed will have more fat, an older bird more flesh—and flavour.

Special Note

Duck goes with — cherry, ginger, orange, red wine, star anise