The ducks have been whacked. Back in December we slaughtered our ducks and geese. We had a mixture of Aylesbury and Mallard ducks. The Mallard didn’t grow as fat as I would have liked. The Aylesburys put on serious weight though, the average weight was 4.5 kg each. The Chinese geese were hugely disappointing. They seemed to maintain their original weight throughout the time we had them. And they were loud. Every day we came to feed them they would create such a racket. I have heard of them being used as guard dogs and now I know why. The flavour of the goose meat itself was fine but the livers were tiny. Not even enough to make a small portion of the foie gras I swore I’d make. I will though make it in the future when I get larger livers.
When it came to processing the birds I met a fabulous man called Whacky Walshe who plucked the birds and cleaned them out ready for the pot. I had 4 geese and 12 ducks, a job that would have taken me an age to pluck. But Whacky had it done in no time. He has a super set up for the job with an electric plucker to make the task that bit easier. Whacky was out the door with work when I arrived in mid December as he takes care of turkeys too. He kindly fit us in although he was busy. We would have been lost without him.
When I sorted out the different sizes of the birds I decided to confit four of the smaller ones. To confit a duck is a way of preserving meat in its own fat. It comes from the French word “confire” which means ‘ to prepare ‘. First of all you need to cut up the birds in to quarters. Next you need to rub salt in to the skin and meat. This is the first step in preserving the meat. Place your duck into an oven tray and leave in the fridge over night. Next day pat them dry with some kitchen roll. When working with raw meat always be sure to wash your hands as this is when you are most likely to come across bacteria. Once you have dried the duck sprinkle a generous helping of Chinese 5 spice on to the duck and rub it in well.
Now fill the tray with sunflower oil making sure to cover the meat by a couple of millimetres. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 100C until the meat comes away from the bone very easily. This can take a couple of hours anything from 4 to 8 hours. When the ducks are done allow them to cool. Once cooled transfer the meat to a sterilised mason jar or something similar. You can sterilise a jar by either freshly washing it in a dishwasher at it’s highest setting or by placing the jar and lid into a hot oven for 10 minutes. With the duck now in the jar carefully pour in the cooled oil. Use a sieve if necessary, to catch any residue. Make sure to cover the duck by at least an inch of oil. By doing this you ensure the preserving of the meat. Once the jar is sealed and kept in a cool dark place it can keep for several months. Make sure to take a note of the date of jarring for your records. When you are ready to eat this delicious duck, heat it up in a frying pan with a little of the fat. You can use the remaining fat to roast potatoes. Serve with some braised red cabbage and Enjoy.