Cooking

Mighty Ducks

Rohan birds are the word

It's not chicken that's ruling our roost these days, but duck.

Specifically, a duck named Rohan. The new breed from D'Artagnan ($32 for a 5-pound duck) crosses the mallard and the Pekin to approximate a style of duck found in Normandy.

The birds are raised humanely to 11 weeks in New York's Catskills, five weeks longer than the average factory-raised duck's lifespan. D'Artagnan owner Ariane Daguin insists that the maturity allows the flavors to deepen and makes a better meat-to-bone ratio.

We'll buy it. When we recently cooked a few Rohan duck breasts in our Test Kitchen, we were enamored with everything, including the way the skin crisped, the thickness of the fat layer, and the size of the cut of meat.

But what really stood out was the flavor. The meat was intensely rich without being overpowering. Where some duck dishes we've had in the past tasted of iron, this one held only clean, buttery notes.

D'Artagnan also offers pre-marinated cuts, but avoid those. The marinades do a disservice to an otherwise beautiful protein. Stick to the undecorated meat, which needs no ornament; or, if you need to gild the lily, do so with a sauce of your own invention (we think it'd go perfectly with a red wine-butter pan sauce).

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