Roast duck makes for a splendid special occasion dish, and there are several different duck breeds available through various sources. Which one you choose for roasting depends on ease of purchase, how many people you're planning to feed and whether you prefer a leaner or fattier duck and a milder or more pronounced flavor to the meat. Look for frozen duck in the poultry section; fresh duck may have to be ordered from a butcher or by mail.
Pekin duck is often mislabeled "Peking Duck" due to confusion with the classic Chinese dish of the same name. But although the Pekin breed was originally developed in China, the Pekin's alternate name, Long Island duckling, testifies to its popularity in the U.S. Pekins are by far the most popular duck on the domestic market and, thus, the easiest to find; according to The Nibble, 95 percent of the duck sold domestically is Pekin. Pekin ducks are meaty and fatty, and the meat is mild in flavor. These ducks roast well although other breeds may be preferred if available.
The Muscovy duck is smaller and leaner than the Pekin. Despite its name, the Muscovy is a native of South America, whose temperate climate accounts in part for this duck's lack of fat and thinner skin. Muscovy ducks can be hard to find but they are prized for their deep flavor, particularly when roasted. Unlike other domestic duck breeds, the females are much smaller than the males, so choose which size you desire carefully.
The Moulard is a cross between the Pekin and the Muscovy duck. It's larger than the Muscovy but leaner than the Pekin. Its meat has a strong flavor. Moulards can be tricky to roast properly; overcooked, they easily turn stringy and tough. Often cooks prefer to remove the breast -- also called magret -- and cook it separately. The legs are then often turned into confit. Nonetheless, the Moulard can be successfully slow-roasted. The lower heat will render the fat and allow it to tenderize the duck flesh and crisp its skin.
If you are eating wild duck, it is most likely a wild mallard, although other ducks such as wood ducks or teal may also make an occasional appearance on the hunter's dinner table. Wild duck can be successfully roasted. In fact it's generally easier to do so than to attempt to carve the duck into individual pieces. Wild duck can have a pronounced gamey flavor, and can stand up well to other strong flavors.
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