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Food glossary

Duck

Duck

Breasts

Duck breasts are sometimes referred to as magrets, from the French name for them. They are about the same size as chicken breasts but have a much stronger flavour and the meat is richer and darker. Duck is often considered to be a fatty meat but nowadays leaner ducks are bred with only a thin later of fat under the skin. Barbary duck breasts are sold in Waitrose.

Uses: Duck breasts are best pan-fried, stir fried or grilled. A variety of accompaniments are traditionally served with duck including cherries, oranges and cranberry sauce. Chinese, and Thai flavourings are also often served with duck.

To store: Keep in the fridge in the original wrapping or in a covered container, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat food. Store until the use by date. To freeze, freeze on the day of purchase for up to 1 month. To defrost, remove from the original packaging and place on a plate or tray and cover. Defrost thoroughly in the bottom of the fridge, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat food, before cooking. Never re-freeze raw meat that has been frozen and then thawed. Wash work surfaces, chopping boards, utensils and hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.

To prepare: For stir frying, remove the skin from the breasts and cut into thin, even strips across the grain of the meat. For grilling prick the skin all over using a fork (this ensures the fat will drain out during the cooking and the skin helps keep the flesh moist).

To cook: Due to their fairly high fat content, duck breasts are well suited to dry frying without the addition of any fat. Heat a frying pan until hot, then add the duck breasts to the pan, skin-side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, pressing down with the back of a spoon to force all the fat out. Turn the breasts over and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side until slightly firm and thoroughly cooked.

To stir fry duck breasts, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the strips of duck meat and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes or until tender and thoroughly cooked. The healthiest method of cooking duck breasts is to grill them, preheat the grill to high and cook for 4-7 minutes on each side until browned and thoroughly cooked.

Leg portions

Duck leg portions have a good proportion of meat and can be used in a variety of ways. Barbary duck leg portions are sold in Waitrose.

Uses: Duck leg portions can be pan-fried or casseroled, or they can be boned and skinned and the flesh can be stir-fried or used for kebebs.

To store: Keep in the fridge in the original wrapping or in a covered container, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat food. Store until the use by date. To freeze, freeze on the day of purchase for up to 1 month. To defrost, remove from the original packaging and place on a plate or tray and cover. Defrost thoroughly in the bottom of the fridge, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat food, before cooking. Never re-freeze raw meat that has been frozen and then thawed. Wash work surfaces, chopping boards, utensils and hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.

To prepare: To pan fry duck leg portions, prick the skin all over with a fork, this helps release the fat during cooking to give a crispy result.

To cook: To pan fry, place the pricked duck portions in a frying pan (there is no need to add extra fat) and cook for 10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and throughly cooked, add stock, wine or sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. To casserole, brown the duck portions in a frying pan until golden brown (there is no need to add extra fat). Transfer the portions to a casserole, using a slotted spoon, add vegetables and liquid (stock, wine or cider) and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C, gas mark 4 for 11/2 hours until thoroughly cooked. Before serving remove any excess fat and adjust the seasoning.

Smoked breast

Ready to eat sliced smoked duck breast from the Rannoch smokery in Scotland is available in Waitrose. Prime duck breasts are steeped in a special brine and then gently smoked over oak chips impregnated with whisky.

Uses: Serve as part of a selection of cold meats or warm or cold with a salad or in canapés.

To store: Keep the fridge and consume by the use by date. Once opened, eat within 2 days.