parting a duck
WARNING for sensitive people:
This page shows pictures of butchering an animal. Do not proceed to look at the pictures if that makes you uncomfortable.
This article shows how to part a duck.
The main concern in processing an animal is to avoid perforating the intestines because the feces will contaminate and poison the meat. I find my method a lot easier and safer than the more commonly used method of slitting the belly and digging for the internal organs in a whole animal. But then, I don't care about roasting these whole, because they're going to be stewed.
I find a duck slightly harder to part than a chicken. The method is the same as for chickens, but the skin is thicker and tougher to cut through; the joints are tighter and everything is smaller and narrower. The proportions are different, but everything is there.
Ducks have a longer body than chickens with a smaller pelvic opening, which makes this method of opening the body so much more convenient than digging in that long narrow tunnel for the organs.
I often parted the smaller Rouen ducks. (Pic21) I wanted the breast separated for searing, and packed wings, and legs of several animals together for a more substantial meal.
The Pekin ducks are larger, with a thicker fat layer. (Pic28) Those are ideal as whole fryers.
Muscovy ducks are bigger again, but very lean compared to Pekins. They have huge breast muscles. I've cut breast fillets of 3 lbs. from Muscovies. Regardless how old the animal was, those big ones never went in soup, stew or pot roast. They were always seared and slow-roasted.
- I always part the ducks in 8 pieces:
the wings x2, the legs x2, the 2 breast fillets with or without bone, the neck, and the leftover carcass.
- THE WINGS AND SHOULDERS
- Bend the wing backwards.
- Cut through the skin where you can see the joint.
- Pop the joint out of the socket.
- Cut through and around the shoulder joint to remove the wing and nearby muscles.
- Instead of cutting through the shoulder joint, cut the muscles along the rib cage, under the shoulder blade and towards the front. You get more shoulder muscle meat like that.
- THE LEGS:
- If the duck still has feet, cut them off at the ankle joint at the end off the drumstick.
- Pull the leg away from the body.
- Cut through the skin on the inside of the legs.
- Carefully bend the leg outwards until the hip bone pops out of the joint.
- Cut away the legs by cutting all along the pelvic bone to get all of the leg muscle meat and through the joint. I do not separate the drumstick from the thigh.
- THE BREAST
- Turn the bird on its back.
- Find the outer edge of the breast muscles. It shows as a line under the skin.
- For breast fillets with bone:
- Cut through the ribs and muscles right where they attach to the breastbone and continue along the edge of the breast bone.
- Repeat on the other side and lift the breastbone up until you find the joints that attach it to the spine (clavicle, coracoid)
- Cut along those bones and through the joints to free the breastbone.
- For a butterflied breast fillet without bone:
- Slide a knife under the outer edge of the breast muscles and cut away the muscle against the breast bone towards the midline, then up along the standing breastbone.
- Cut along the ridge but leave the skin intact.
- If you want to make Skin-wrapped Duck Breast,
- Remove the neck skin but keep it still attached to the breast fillet.
- For 2 divided breast fillets:
- make the first cut on the midline through the skin.
- Slide the knife to one side of the breast bone and cut along the bone. When hitting bottom, continue towards the side.
- Do the same on the other side,
- Follow the breast bone forward until you hit the scapula and coracoid bones.
- Cut the muscles along these bones to free the breast fillet.
- THE CARCASS:
- After cutting away all the other pieces. there is not much left other than the spine and ribcage with a narrow strip of skin along the back, and the neck with or without the head.
- If the bird still has the head and you want to make Stuffed Duck Neck,
cut the skin at the base of the neck as close to the body as possible.
Pull the skin towards the head like rolling up a sock.
Cut through the neck just underneath the head. This way you have a sock of skin that can be tied off and stuffed like a sausage with a head.
- If there is no head,
- Cut the neck skin all around close to the body and pull the skin away from the neck like a sock. That way you can still stuff it to make a sausage without the head.
- Alternatively, slice the skin around the neck open over its entire length; and cut the skin loose near the body. Then cut through the neck as close to the body as possible.
- Do not throw away the remaining carcass.
- Use it and the feet to make stock.
- The skin can be used to render duck fat.
3 killing days
Pic4: duck cuts
Pic5: parted ducks
Pic6: another way - internet picture
Pic7: developing eggs
Pic9: livers, one very fatty
Pic10: Muscovy breast fillets are huge
Pic11: carcasses for soup
Pic12: vacuum-sealed, ready for the freezer