Friday, March 07, 2008

Wild Duck at a Baltimore Supermarket

Wild duck cooked bloody rare is my favorite food in the world.* Was finding a couple of frozen ones at the AA International Market on Security Boulevard too good to be true? Maybe, maybe not. Though hardly comparable to an Eastern Shore canvasback, when roasted for 22 minutes at 500 degrees, no question lingered but that this was, indeed, a wild duck. My understanding was that commerce in wild ducks was illegal. I'm also ignorant as to how America's Asian markets do their sourcing and have yet to surpass the language barrier enough to find someone who could inform me. But I've been combing over the freezers, stalls, tables, and shelves of Baltimore's Asian markets for many years, and this was a first.

Perhaps these "wild ducks" were actually raised on farms, maybe in China. Or they could have been bagged by a hunter God knows where. I doubt the latter, as the skin bore no evidence of piercing by buckshot. After finding wild duck at an Asian market where plenty of items were past the sell date and much that was frozen was poorly packaged, you'd think I'd heed the "safe handling instructions" on the cellophane wrap. Being as it were, my craving for rare wild duck transcended any such precaution. You might even say that those 22 minutes in the oven I claimed were something of a fib. At least a couple of them were spent pulling my duck in and out of the oven for basting. I'd dotted it with butter. A little bacon might have worked better, but we were out of it. You don't really need to baste a wild duck with anything to keep it moist when cooking it this rare, even though wild duck is a whole lot leaner than the various kinds of duck served in restaurants or that you find in other stores.

I proclaim this my find of the year.

With some hindsight, I believe that 22 minutes at 500 F would prove a bit too rare for most readers and suggest that 23 uninterrupted minutes at 500F is the perfect length of time for cooking this kind of duck, all of which are pretty much the same size. To avoid having to interrupt the process for basting, I recommend laying several strips of bacon over the bird before roasting.