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Sep 14, 2009 10:33 AM

Tips on Scoring Fat on Duck Breasts?

I have the damnest time doing this - either use too much force, and score the whole way through the fat, or, with less pressure, I barely even make a dent in the fat. I used to think it was my knives - but the one I used today easily sliced through a tomato, so I think it should be sharp enough. I've also tried a serrated knife, but that's not worked any better.

One thought that I've not tried is to freeze them a bit, so that the fat firms up - presumably that would make it easier? These breasts were at room temperature, as I had just finished cutting up the duck.

Any and all tips welcome!

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  1. My mother used a razor blade but I think the semi-freezing is a good option.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I like the razor blade idea - I wonder if an exacto knife would work? Not that I have one handy. Too bad I already rendered all the fat - would have been a good way to test various methods. Next time.

      1. re: MMRuth

        A razor blade with a retractable blade that has different depths you can lock into a set position has long been an essential tool in commercial kitchens. While I always use a sharp knife for scoring duck skin on breasts and fish......the razor blade is the only way I ever score tougher pig skin on fresh hams and picnic shoulders.

        An exacto knife will score well and easily, but you will still have a potential problem with your depth cuts without practice. I would also say the safety features on a quality utility knife are definitely make it a better choice overall.

    2. Really sharp non-serrated edge kitchen knife should do it (although I don't usually bother for duck).

      My problem was trying to score pork fat for good crackling. I now use a carpenters/craft knife with a retractable blade (in the UK, we call that a Stanley knife)

      1. Please dont think this is gross, but there is a knife on a swiss army/utility knife that is meant for cutting leather and it works like a charm. It makes easy work of the fat. I use my SO's knife which I think may be from his camp days but it works like a charm.

        1. I'm sure it's probably not the best way, but I always get a small knife and hold it at more of a vertical angle and use the tip to score through it.

          1. This is probably from your knife not being sharp enough or the way it's been sharpened. Try canting your blade a little left or right as you draw it across the fat. Make sure you cut at angles instead of straight up and down. Many things cut easier at an angle. As odd as that sounds you can hit a branch vertically with an axe several times before you cut through while one chop at an angle with often do the job.
            If you opt for razors you can get a whole package of razors for utility knives at almost any hardware store for under $2.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Fritter

              Thanks - I should have mentioned that I do use my knife at an angle (which I think is what you mean by canting) - it is easier, but still not great. I'll post back once I try some of the suggested methods/tools.