Method

No matter which recipe you use, you will probably want to remove the duck fat and render it for use in another dish. I usually remove the breasts from the duck and leave the skin on them, scraping off any excess fat. The remaining skin of the duck I remove entirely unless I plan to cook the legs separately.

Put all of the skin and excess fat you intend to render in a food processor and puree. Cover the bottom of a saucepan or skillet with water (a couple of tablespoons is enough), then add the pureed duck fat and skin. Heat over low heat until all the water has evaporated and the fat is clear. Strain into a container and keep covered and refrigerated. It will last several months.

Cracklings are crisply cooked skins, which are delicious as snacks and as garnishes for salads and vegetable dishes. The easiest way to make cracklings is to place pieces of skin that have been scraped of excess fat on a cookie sheet, spread them out flat, sprinkle them with cayenne pepper and salt, and bake in a 400° oven until they are crisp, about 20 minutes. A small roasting pan with a raised perforated insert will allow juices to drain off, so that the meats being roasted do not sit in their own fat. As with most foods cooked in fat, it is best to drain the cracklings on a rack (or in the roasting pan with the raised bottom) rather than to put them on paper towels, where they would reabsorb the fat.

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