Although ducks are a relatively common bird, we do not consume them as frequently as chickens. You may only see duck on a menu at a fancy restaurant, and they are not always easy to find in a grocery store. You may want to know, “what does duck taste like”? That answer depends on the type of duck and how it is prepared. When done correctly, duck is a culinary delight. Duck does not taste like chicken and is a unique meat unto itself.
Four Common Varieties of Duck
1. What does Peking duck taste like?
The most common duck that is raised commercially for meat is the White Peking duck. When you see duck in the grocery store it can also be identified as “Long Island Duck”. It earned this name when an American businessman brought some Peking ducks from China and started raising them on Long Island. If you ask someone what does Peking duck taste like, you will want to try some for yourself. This is also frequently available at Chinese restaurants. Peking duck is actually more like beef than chicken, and many people describe it as a sweet, rich meat that is closer to red meat in flavor and turkey in texture. For your first taste of duck, Peking is highly recommended.
2. What does wild duck taste like?
When someone asks, “what does wild duck taste like”, they are most likely referring to the Mallard. The Mallard is a common game bird in the United States. Due to their need for survival, wild ducks often have less fat and less meat. They are smaller and less dense. This affects the flavor. If you wonder why does duck taste gamey, then this might be your answer. There are ways to prepare Mallard to reduce the gamey taste and this will be discussed in the next section.
3. What does Muscovy duck taste like?
If you enjoy the flavor of duck, then Muscovy ducks might be worth a try. Compared to Peking ducks, Muscovy ducks have a much more pronounced duck taste. You are less likely to find a whole Muscovy duck as they are usually raised for foie gras or just their breast meat. Foie gras or “fatty liver” is produced by feeding a duck or goose significant quantities of food to fatten them up. Due to controversy about humane treatment, this practice is becoming less frequent.
4. What does Moulard duck taste like?
This large duck is less common than the others. It is the result of crossbreeding Muscovy ducks and Peking ducks. The meat is less tender than its founding breeds, and as a result it is mainly used for foie gras. If you do sample the meat you may find it is not very tender. When deciding does duck taste gamey, many people agree that Moulard ducks have this flavor profile. However, some people appreciate the intense taste provided by this bird.
Check my post on how to cook Chicken drumstick.
Common Ways to Prepare Duck
This method is best for Peking duck. The skin of a Peking is thick with fat, and the key is to release this fat in the roasting process to produce a crisp, delicious skin to go with the meat. Although there are many ways to do this, some people find it easiest to score the breast in a diamond pattern. Also score the duck on other fatty parts of the body. Season the duck and put it in the oven to roast. You will be left with a juicy, tender meat and well-baked skin. When you ask a friend, “what does duck taste like” and they rave about the meat, this is the most likely way they ate it.
If you are preparing duck breast, you may find that pan searing is best. Peking, wild, and Muscovy duck are good choices for this method. It is important to start the meat in a cold frying pan. Doing this will release the fat from the breast while crisping up the skin. It takes time to properly pan-sear duck breast because you must keep the heat low. Some people prefer their duck breast rare, and pan-searing lends itself to this process.
Many fans of duck prefer the meat to have a smoky flavor. Grilling is a great way to achieve this. If you are grilling duck, you can use just the breast of wild or Muscovy ducks. You can also grill a whole Peking duck. Add wood chips to your grill to instill a delicious smoky touch to the meat. Use a drip pan to catch the fat as you slowly grill your bird. As with other methods of cooking, it is important to render the fat from the meat so you are left with moist meat and crisp skin.
If you are concerned about the gamey flavor of duck, particularly a Mallard or Muscovy, then some people recommend brining the meat before cooking it. Prepare a brine and allow the duck to soak for several hours before cooking. This helps remove the gamey flavor. The resulting product will be saltier but the overall flavor may be more appealing to the average person.
When discovering what does duck taste like, be aware of the type of duck and the cooking method. It is not a complicated process but a bit of education can ensure your first time eating duck is successful. If you have had poorly prepared or selected duck, you may think duck is not a great meat for consumption. Duck meat is delicious when cooked correctly, so doing it yourself may provide the best experience.
Check my other article on grilling sides for Chicken.