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My Costco smoked duck (near) disaster

So I bought a smoked duck a couple of weeks ago at Costco - I had no plans for it but it was irresistible. I asked for some suggestions as to what to do with it, but nothing really hit me so I just hung onto the thing. Until today. Sister-in-law, nephew and wife, etc., etc., coming for lunch. I made a delicious squash soup, a French lentil salad and a green salad with oranges. I was planning to serve the duck, sliced, room temperature to go with everything.

First the unwrapping. It looks fine. But there was something unsettling about the congealed duck fat - don't get me wrong, I love duck fat. But this was still attached to the skin and the skin wasn't crisp, of course. So I decided to heat it a bit. Threw it into the oven (convection) for about 20 minutes to warm and maybe crisp the skin a little. When I took it out, it looked better. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then I tried cutting the thing up. Well, this was not what I expected. It was labelled as fully cooked and being perfect for the "buffet table". I don't think so. There was a very thick layer of fat - so thick that I could barely find the meat. I tried carving what I could find off the bird but honestly, in the end I had a small pile of meat - maybe 1 cup - and a huge mountain of thick fatty skin and bones. Also they left the neck inside with a surprise packet of giblets.

Anyway, longish story short. I arranged the small amount of meat on a plate and ran out to buy a small turkey breast to throw on the grill as a supplement. I still have all the duck bits and will make something with it but this was NOT perfect for the buffet table and you cannot simply slice it up and serve it.

You've been warned.

So what should I do with all the bits? Cassoulet? Something else?

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  1. Thanks for the warning. No suggestion on what to do with the bits, except maybe return to Costco and tell them your experience. They track these things in deciding which items to keep and which not to order any more.

    I never saw this product in our Costco, but I will be sure to stay away if it shows up.

    1. You may have received/picked a sub-standard duck, but my question to you is, otherwise how was the actual taste of the duck. If it was good, all the negatives you mentioned would be of little concern to me, as I could spruce up or vary the duck's presentation for a dish.

      It is after all a convenience item.......

      1 Reply
      1. re: fourunder

        The meat that I actually picked off the duck was moist and flavourful. How can I describe it? A texture more like lox, though, than a hot-smoked salmon, if you know what I mean. If I were ever to purchase this again - which I don't honestly think I would - I'd use it in a fully cooked dish rather than serving it as is. Really, this isn't any more a convenience item than a ham is. You're not likely to buy a smoked ham (on the bone) and serve it without some sort of preparation first - baking or whatever. The same goes for this.

        Actually mercyteapot, I might just bring the wrapper in to Costco next time I go. I know they're really good about complaints and returns. Not that there was anything really wrong with the product - it just wasn't what I expected and there was no way of knowing that before buying it. The packaging has absolutely no serving suggestions or anything.

      2. I saw it in the Ajax warehouse, before Xmas and thought it would be a good substitute for duck confit in a cassoulet, but I left it there and it was gone next time. It came from Brandt's of Mississauga, so maybe a call to them would help.
        I often put odds and ends into ramen bowl, or soba.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          I stuck what was left of it in the freezer and one day I'll make cassoulet or something, just as you were thinking. However, it's not lovely and caramelized like confit - it's just a very fatty smoked duck. Live and learn.

          1. re: Nyleve

            Sounds like a duck that never had to work very hard for a living, like migrate to Mexico on the central flyway a few winters :)

        2. The amusing and well told tale itself is worth the price of the duck.

          1 Reply
          1. Just goes to show you can find ANYTHING on the internet! I'm so glad you posted this, because I too saw the smoked duck at Costco before Christmas and like so many of my purchases there said, "What the Hell...", tossed it in my cart with the soy milk, sports bra 2 pack, cat litter, History of Islamic Art tome, snow tires (ok, now I'm kidding) and broccolini...

            A week later, leaving for Las Vegas, tossed quacker in the freezer because I too didn't know what the bleep, or when, to do anything with it. Didn't realize it keeps forever in fridge because of salt cure and lots' o fat covering it.

            Fast forward to Monday when I defrost the freezer because it's freaking cold outside (about 0 F) and so I can turf everything into the "sun" porch (in those honking big Costco bags --- also great for laundry) without it even thinking about thawing... Find duck. Paid a lot for duck, what to do with it? Take out to thaw. Scratch head. Search cookbooks. Nuttin. Go to Brandt Meat Products website. No info, just cheesy yet strangely hypnotic polka music (honest, I couldn't make that up!) Google. Find your post! Joy. Then see words "near disaster". Ruminate. Get out bottle of scotch to improve rumination, or is it marination?. 2 hours to dinner.

            Do body cavity search of quack for packet of innards. Decide its name is "Murray", and he is innardless (awww) but throw neck into "soop bucket" in freezer for later stock. Put smoked quack on rack in small roasting pan in oven. Start at 450 and immediately reduce heat to 350.

            Roast Murray for 2 hours, turning Murray over a couple of times, ending with breast up to get that skin crispier (never really does) then give up on crispy and give my buddy a breast massage with some leftover cranberry sauce, seville orange marmelade and hotsauce and pop him back in for about 15 20 minutes, having bumped the oven heat up to 400, make sure it doesn't burn. There is almost a half inch of duck fat in the roasting pan by this point.

            Hack off Murray's pecs with skin (oh so fatty sweet cranberry bitter orange slightly singed yummy skin included) and serve with mashed sweet potatoes and greens with garlic. Pretty good, except I now am perfumed with "Eau de Murray". Next morning. Murray sits forlornly in fat lake in fridge. Legs are so pretty dried out and chewy, jerky-like. Not so fun to eat.

            Go postal on Murray, tear him wing from wing and throw him in stock pot, with some leek green parts & the neck salvaged from the soop bucket, and of course 4 whole peeled cloves garlic. Melt the fat in the pan and pour off into jar. I've got almost a cup of fat sitting in the newly frost free freezer for future diabolical uses.

            Scrape any dripping bits into pot, pausing to eat a few (intensely salty and greasy...mmmm) After a half hour of simmering, remove legs and take the meat off, shred coarsely. Taste. Disappointing, Kind of like overboiled ham. Diabolical idea: take fat jar and toss the meat in a TB of the fat. Presto changeo! Yum. Will be great to toss with some pasta and broccolini (and.... garlic) tonight. Leave bones and skin in pot with neck, as I type, simmering down. Going to be good in a soup or even as the basis for cassoulet should I get so ambitious.

            After all this work, I'm thinking maybe confit isn't such a stretch. But I'll need another bottle of scotch...

            4 Replies
            1. re: RedMaggie

              Thanks for the entertaining reading, I had to laugh. Sounds like so many of my freezer adventures - minus the scotch, i'm a Whiskey girl :)

              1. re: RedMaggie

                Great post - great! An affirmation of my own experience, to a certain extent. Even though I didn't go quite as far as you did. My duck - Daffy - was relegated to the freezer after the cursory and disappointing dismemberment, where it remains to this day. I now have a good-ish idea. Maybe something like that rillettes - an deliciously evil French Canadian concoction consisting of a lot of fat held together by a few morsels of meat (usually pork). This would work very nicely as an hors d'oeuvre type pate. Thanks for the reminder - I almost totally forgot about the darn thing.

                1. re: RedMaggie

                  Just hilarious. I'll take Captain Morgan's and coke please.

                  1. re: RedMaggie

                    Thanks for a very amusing post. I look forward to more adventures. Perhaps, "Murray Strikes Back", "PETA sues drunk over duck molestation", "The evils of alcohol", ...

                  2. LOL - Great posts, everyone. I'm not a fan of smoked meat stock, but maybe you had better luck than I did.

                    Once I bought a cooked duck from a Chinese market, and while the skin was delicious, there was only about 1 cup of meat in the entire thing! Not enough to make a decent Chinese duck salad for 4, much less 6 people. (Duck makes a tastier Chinese chicken salad than chicken does.) So I'm not sure your paltry duck meat is that bad, considering smoking shrinks everything. Would you buy it again?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Claudette

                      NO! I wouldn't buy it again. For the cost of the thing - which came to around $18 - I'd much sooner buy a Chinese BBQ duck. More flavourful and less fatty (if you can believe).

                      Having said that, I make a really killer soup with smoked turkey and sweet potatoes. Usually pick up the smoked turkey thighs or drumsticks at, yes, Costco. You can also make the soup with ham or similar but I like the turkey version best.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        I actually smoked my own duck a few weeks ago. Same thing a tremendous amount of fat and after I picked the meat from the bone ended up with about a cup of meat.
                        so I am thinking how can I strech this into a meal. I ended up making blue corn crepes with the smoked duck and some organic white cheddar with cilantro. I served them with a chipotle cream sauce and I have to say they were awesome. I also think the smoked duck would be great in tamales.

                    2. When I got the Costco Quaker...I immediately skinned it and rendered the fat ... thereby creating duck 'gribines' nice and crackly, which I seved over the sliced warmed duck meat....not bad...I also had a lot of duck 'schmaltz' to use later...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        Oy, I cannot find smoked duck ANYWHERE. I just came back from my first trip abroad and fell in love with smoked duck. I live in an apartment so smoking it myself isn't an option (although i've been thinking about an indoor stovetop smoker). Where can I find smoked duck (or even just fresh not frozen duck) in Pittsburgh? This is a large city, but there seems to be no duck to be found outside of a brick of duck in the freezer section!