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Culver Duck in the News

Culver Duck has been in the news alot. Whether we're winning a trophy at the Fancy Food Show; or, introducing a new product to make eating well with Duck easier for you...Seems we're often making headlines. To date, we'ver brought home five (5) trophies from the Fancy Food Show as well as numerous First Place awards from our barbecue days. Please feel free to contact us about any of the stories you find here if you would like more information.
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If it looks like a duck, and tastes like a duck...
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If it looks like a duck, and tastes like a duck ...
January 2008

Burt Culver of Culver Duck Farms in Middlebury says a first step for newcomers to selecting and preparing duck has nothing to do with either selecting or preparing. Instead, he suggests beginning with an intellectual exercise.

"Take the mental monster out of your mind about duck, the ideas about fatty explosions in your oven," he says. "It's like a chicken."

South Bend Tribune
Article published Jan 14, 2008
If it looks like a duck, and tastes like a duck ...

Tribune Correspondent

Culver should know. He's a fifth-generation duck farmer located in Elkhart County, where -- between Culver Duck and Maple Leaf Farms of Milford -- almost 75 percent of the country's ducks are raised. "This is the duck capital of the world," said Culver.But according to him, duck doesn't sell well in Michiana. Culver Duck moves 400,000 pounds of duck per week all over the country, mostly to metropolitan areas boasting a large number of high-end restaurants.

If you're at all curious about giving duck a try, or perhaps hopping on the local-eating bandwagon, here's a primer, courtesy of some first-timers who gathered recently in South Bend to cook and sample a duck dinner.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that skinless breast from a white Pekin duck, which is the most common breed sold in the United States, is actually lower in fat and calories than skinless chicken breast and is comparable in fat and calories to skinless turkey breast. But keep in mind that duck is a red meat, despite being categorized as poultry. So a well-prepared duck breast eats more like steak than chicken. When properly cooked it should have an internal temperature around 165 degrees and appear just pink in the center. A quick survey of local butchers and markets showed that frozen, rather than fresh, ducks are available now. Gene Bamber of Bamber's Superette sells Culver Duck and Muscovy duck, a less common breed of duck that some say has more breast meat than others, in his freezer.

Culver likes to roast his ducks with his so-called "quack on a rack" method: an Eiffel tower-like vertical roaster inserted in the cavity, which he says is good for any fowl. Otherwise use a typical roasting pan, place the bird on a rack breast up, season with salt and pepper, or a special seasoning rub (Culver's own special rub won second place out of 2,000 entries at a recent national competition). Cook at 350 for a couple of hours. When done, the skin should be crisp, and if you pierce the skin at a thigh, clear juice should run out.

Bamber recommends cutting the duck in half with a good pair of poultry shears. Or, in a pinch, a hacksaw will do. Snip the neck skin, clean out the cavity and cut through the ribs on either side of the backbone, which resembles the keel of a ship. Rinse each half and marinate each in a shallow glass dish with one-quarter to one-third of a cup of vodka (stay away from flavored vodkas) and 1 tablespoon of juniper berries. Roast as directed, but remove the bird from the oven and finish on a grill for the last 20 to 30 minutes for a crispier skin and different flavor.

"Sometimes people aren't courageous enough to buy a $20 duck meal at a restaurant," Culver says. "But if they start out trying a duck appetizer, they might work up to the main course."

Maple Leaf Farms and Culver Duck both offer duck appetizers via their Web sites. The duck kebob is one of Culver's favorites.

The duck method we chose was similar to the one published here. It called for parboiling the whole duck in poultry stock or water for 45 minutes. Then we gently rubbed salt and freshly ground black pepper over the skin and oven-roasted it for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Along with our side dishes of roasted winter root vegetables and a green bean and walnut salad, we served a pinot noir, which pairs well with duck dishes. We also grilled up a few duck sausages and seasoned duck breast filets. No one uttered the words "fatty" or "greasy" once to describe the results.

"I've only had duck one other time," said Bill Karban, as he tasted his first bite of the Cajun seasoned filets. "And that just blew it away."

The consensus at this duck dinner party was that trying something new made for a tasty learning experience. In fact, the group decided to continue the adventurous eating momentum with a regular eating club, trying out a new dish at each get-together.

Basic Roast Duck
Recipe from Maple Leaf Farms

1 5 1/2 pound whole duck
2 liters water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic, powdered
2 large onions, chopped
2 oranges, cut in quarters
1 stalk celery, sliced

Remove giblets and neck. Rinse duck inside and out. Prick skin all over, being careful not to pierce the meat.

Put water in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat to a gentle boil. Add duck and parboil until duck fat is rendered, approximately 20 minutes. Remove duck. Discard water and fat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine salt, pepper, garlic and paprika.

When cool, rub duck with spice mixture, inside and out. Stuff duck with onion, orange and celery pieces.

Place rack in bottom of Dutch oven. Place duck on rack breast side up and roast uncovered 30 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 185 degrees, measured at the thigh joint. The leg should move freely and juices run clear when the duck is done.

Remove duck from pan. Remove vegetables and fruit from inside duck; discard. Arrange duck on serving platter.

Green Bean and Walnut Salad
Recipe from the "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook," (Clarkson Potter, 2001)

1/4 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup walnut halves, oven roasted until golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed
4 cups mixed salad greens

Boil green beans in large pot of water until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Whirl the dressing ingredients in a blender until emulsified. Drain beans and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain again and set aside. Tear salad greens into bite sized pieces.

Arrange the salad greens on a platter. Mound the beans in the center and drizzle on half of the dressing. Scatter the walnuts on top. Pass the rest of the dressing at the table.

Roasted Winter Root Vegetables
Recipe from the "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook," (Clarkson Potter, 2001)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 cups of each:
Coarsely chopped onions
Sliced carrots
Cubed parsnips
Cubed turnips
Cubed potatoes

Preheat oven at 450.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Place the veggies in a large bowl and toss well with dressing to coast veggies evenly. Spread in a single layer on an unoiled shallow baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until crispy, browned and tender.