Cooking Classes


How to Use a Whole Duck when You are Cooking for One

I should be stating in most of my recipes that they can all be made when you cook for one.  I am only cooking for one throughout this entire blog, even though I state the amounts for more.  There is no reason you cannot eat well and have very nice food even if you live alone.

I enjoy duck and when I cannot find just the duck breast, whole duck is the only other option.

I found a whole, fresh duck at The Market in Maryville.  The whole duck was only $23.  This is when I start to ponder how to use the whole duck without just simply roasting it.

I decided to cut it apart and make a greater variety of dishes.  Below are the instructions on how to cut it apart.  I will be sharing some more of my recipes with duck over the next couple of days.

Now, how will I cook it?  This is my plan - one half breast with a wild rice salad, one half breast seared and served with dried fruit compote and spinach risotto, one leg braised and served with Morbier grits (or polenta if you are in another part of the world or garlic mashed potatoes), and the other leg and wings in confit.  All the skin and fat will be rendered down for use in making the confit and for other sauteing.  And last but not least, duck cracklings will be made after rendering the fat.  I can use it in a multitude of ways.  My best idea for using the cracklings is in an Iceberg Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese or to garnish any time you might have used bacon bits.

To break this down a little further, the confit can be kept refrigerated for a month.  The braised duck leg can be kept, cooked and refrigerated for 2 days.  You can keep raw duck refrigerated for about 2-3 days as well.  Add that up and you will have duck in 3 different recipes in about 8 days without eating leftovers.  Then the confit and the cracklings can be used up to a month.  The confit can be made into rillettes, a type of coarse pate for crackers.  Or add the confit to pasta, risotto or bake in arancini.  There are no end to ideas on how to use the confit.

These are a few pictures showing how to cut apart a duck.  First rinse and dry the duck.  Remove any giblets that may be in the cavity.

First, remove the wings.  You can find the joint easily by prying the wing back and snapping the joint.  Cut through and set the wings aside.  Remove the wing tips.

Next, remove the legs with thighs attached.  They will be attached to each other by the back.  Just cut through on either side of the back bone to separate the legs.  Duck legs are usually left attached to the thighs.  Trim excess fat and skin.

The breasts are usually deboned.  Run your fingers under the meat and next to the breast bone.  If necessary, use a sharp knife to help remove the meat from the bone.  Cut the breast down the middle to make two halves.  Trim excess fat and skin.


  1. Blogging encourages me to cook wonderful and appealing meals for just one. Of course sometimes lucky friends are invited over too.

  2. You know it's silly, I never think of breaking up a duck. Cooking for one can be immensely satisfying, except that there is no one to help with the dishes.

  3. Wow! I am so impressed that you are willing to break the duck down to smaller parts for enjoyable meals. I love it! You are absolutely right, the quality or taste of food should never be compromised when cooking for only one.
    Happy holidays to you!

  4. It is great to see a breakdown on cooking a whole duck for one. I've never dealt with a duck but I do buy whole chickens for myself and always just end up roasting them.

  5. What a wonderful site! I have spent days reading your different blogs. I too usually cook for one. I am rendering duck fat right now and also making duck broth. Wish me luck!

    Please keep posting. I live very near Maryville TN.



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