Last year sometime (I think) I bought a duck. Then I stuck it in the deep freezer, because I didn't know how to cook a duck, and figured I'd learn later now that I had a duck. (It was on sale.) Well, upon the recent defrosting of the deep freezer, I found said duck, and decided I better get to that one of these days before I had ossified freezer burn in the shape of a duck. So today I did, armed with a copy of Hank Shaw's Duck Duck Goose.
The slow-roasted duck recipe proved that weightlifting really pays off, as it involves roasting said duck in a cast iron pan in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes, then removing said cast iron pan which is now 300F and full of sloshing duck fat as well as a duck, upping the temperature to 500F and putting said pan back in for 10 minutes to crisp the skin. (And then removing said heavy cast iron pan, even more sloshing duck fat that's spattering, all now 500 degrees F, and moving it to an empty cold burner on the stove.) All the upper body strength I have built so exhaustingly, one barbell rep at a time, turned this from what would have been a highly dangerous and painful enterprise into merely a mildly awkward and very careful one.
I suspect, though, that my cooking times were low. Re-reading the instructions, I was to let the duck come to room temperature, and I instead had the duck at fridge temperature. As a result, the texture was medium-rare, and my back brain was going "You're eating undercooked poultry? Hello, samonella!"
Peter, on the other hand, thought it was excellent. I now know from other friends that this is a thing; Brits like duck cooked medium to medium rare, where Americans think all poultry must be well done. (Hilarious tales of dinner parties gone awry were traded.) So I gave up after one leg, but Peter well and truly enjoyed the other leg and both badly carved breasts.
Look, ducks have much bigger wings than chickens, and gigantic wings and weird-shaped breast muscles compared to turkeys. I was trying to carve it by following the illustrations in the books. Much dangerous flailing with knife and carving fork happened, and my husband very kindly did not laugh at me.
It was definitely a learning curve. I did not master duck on the first try, and am dubious about tackling it again at the regular price of duck meat. If, on the other hand, Peter goes off hunting and comes home with a brace of them?
...then I'll pay the game processor to convert them into plucked and pieced out, and try out more recipes in the book!
In the meantime, at least, I have duck stock rendering in the slow cooker, and half a mug of liquid gold (duck fat is culinary gold, for converting recipes to awesome.)
I also have the undivided attention of two cats, who want to know when they're getting their fair share. (never!)