Monday, January 16, 2006

Duck Cracklings

Today is Monday, Jan. 16, 2006, the Rev. Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday. It is a holiday set aside to honor the equality of all peoples in the United States, especially those of colour, African-Americans in particular.

Like every other group, African-Americans have made significant contributions to the melting pot of American culinary traditions. These contributions, in some cases, can be traced back to Africa. Others evolved according to what was available or affordable.

Cracklings are a fine example. And for that vast majority of Americans who have never tried cracklings made with duck rather than pork, we aspire to bring you to a new level. What better to do with the fatty skin when you're preparing duck breasts?

This recipe is an extension of the most recent feature of, which featured Sliced Duck Breast with Chambord Sauce. It is from the same source and appeared in Gourmet Magazine in conjunction it.


Uncooked duck skin, chopped

In a heavy saucepan or heavy skillet large enough to hold the skin in one layer, combine the chopped skin with enough water to cover it, bring the water to a boil, and cook the mixture at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, until the water is evaporated (the bubbling noise will subside) and the fat is rendered. (As the water evaporates, the liquid will become clear.) Continue to cook the cracklings in the rendered fat over moderate heat, stirring, until they are golden. Transfer the cracklings with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain and sprinkle them with the salt to taste. Strain the duck fat through a fine sieve into a small heatproof bowl and reserve it. The duck fat keeps, covered and chilled, indefinitely. The cracklings keep, covered and chilled, for 1 week.