Mallard is the largest and best-known of all the wild ducks and also the most popular for cooking. It has a stronger flavour than domesticated ducks such as the Pekin or Barbary and much leaner flesh. Waitrose wild mallard is fully traceable to a small number of carefully selected shoots on country estates in southern England and the Midlands. Whole English mallard is available from Waitrose from 1 September to 31 January. Whole mallard may contain shot. To check for shot, rub your fingertips over the surface of the meat to locate any small hard balls and then remove them.
Uses: Mallard is ideal for roasting, one bird serves 2-3. Serve with game chips (thinly sliced deep-fried potatoes) or roast potatoes and a tangy fruit sauce such as cherry or orange.
To store: Keep in the fridge in the original wrapping, 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: Remove all packaging. Brush with a little olive oil before roasting to ensure the meat stays moist and succulent.
To cook: To roast, preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Place the duck in a roasting tin, prick and rub salt into the skin. Place the bird on its side and cook in the centre of the preheated oven for 35 40 minutes. Baste frequently during cooking and halfway through the cooking time turn the duck on to its other side. Do not reheat once cooled. Cool any leftovers to room temperature, refrigerate within 2 hours and consume within 2 days.