What's the difference between types of duck? [moved from Home Cooking board]
I was down iln Chinatown today buying duck legs and looking over the duck varieties - there was Peking, Moulard, Muscovy and one other (whose name escapes me). What's the difference between these different breeds of duck; ane what are the differences in how to cook them?
My poultry market has at least two or more of these on a regular basis and I've never seen any real difference among them other than size. All of these breeds are raised for their meat rather than for laying eggs because other breeds are better for that. Here's a source for a farm that provides ducklings that has some good info about different breeds but not all of the ones you are asking about:
The only differences I've found is between commercially raised ducks and wild ducks that I've gotten from friends who hunt. Can't use the same recipes and techniques.
Maybe there are distinctions in Asian cooking that I don't understand...
Moulard means "mule" and is a sterile cross between a Pekin and Muscovy. These are raised primarily as foie gras producers, with their meat as a tasty by-product. This may be of concern for you if you are anti- foie gras.
Muscovies are also often used for foie gras production, and are smaller and gamier tasting than Pekins. Pekins are produced on the biggest farms, industrially, if you will. They have the smallest breasts and in my opinion, the largest fat-to-meat ratio. Also, some farms serve them fish meal, and they can taste fishy.
Thanks! That probably explains why the poultry market offers Moulard or Muscovy breasts, primarily from Hudson Valley which also produces foie gras and confit. The whole fresh ducks are usually Pekin and are much fattier.
I wonder if that's what most restaurants and markets are offering when they have just breasts/legs/confit. Interesting dilemma for the anti-foie gras folks.
Many Chinese cooks prefer that high fat, crisp skin and mild flavor that a Pekin duck can produce, especially when roasted whole. Another specially-bred strain of the Pekin duck that is used a lot in high-end restaurants is the Liberty duck from the SF bay area. It has large breasts and is rich and flavorful, almost like a wild duck.
Here's a link to some SF chef's favorite ducks and methods of cooking. If you have duck legs, you might want to try the recipe from Manka's Inn called Shut-Up Duck. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles raved about it when they ate at the restaurant.