Fried duck could mean a whole range of frying methods, from the simplest pan-frying to the moderately time consuming deep frying. These methods bring out the duck’s versatility, crispness, and overall flavors. Of course everything deep fried will render crisp skin, as in a whole fried duck. But pan-fried duck breast nevertheless offers it’s own charm and beautiful brown surface.
When pan-frying duck, it’s best to use the breast fillets, which are more tender and easy to manage on the pan than say a whole duck carcass. It cooks uniformly as well, compared with the latter. Pan-fried duck breast taste better medium rare, like cooking a steak. This tip is from Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook as mentioned in the Washington Post.
Pan-fried duck breast can be served with a side dish like braised endive, sautéed garlic potatoes, braised leeks, blanched asparagus, or lentils. For sauces, douse it with a reduction of red wine and orange juice, honey soy sauce, or cranberry sauce.
An interesting take on fried duck recipes is the duck confit, a specialty in the French region of Gascony that calls for curing the duck in salt, garlic, and herbs then slowly cooked in its own fat. The Wikipedia states that frying the duck confit legs until browned and crisp is a classic way of cooking. It is served with roasted potatoes, slow braised cabbages, and lentils cooked in duck fat. A rich fried duck recipe indeed.
While whole ducks are not recommended to be grilled or braised under the USDA guidelines, it can be safely deep fried. Deep fried ducks are a specialty in Asia. American food writer, author and cooking teacher Andrea Nguyen in her website Viet World Kitchen offers some tips in choosing the right duck for frying—it must be of the “Pekin” variety, procured at the Chinese or Vietnamese market.
She also suggests cutting the duck in half so when it goes into the deep fryer, either a wok or an actual fryer, it doesn’t crowd the pan and is easier to turn. It is best to fry the duck at a moderately low temperature, to help it cook through and produce that beautiful crisp skin that will make you love fried duck even more. As always, leftover fried duck pieces shouldn’t be a problem. Store it in the refrigerator for a late evening feasting or chop it and sprinkle over Asian-style fried rice.