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There’s always been a shroud of mist surrounding the topic of duck. Many home cooks shy away from it, and think that the preparation of it is best left to the seasoned chefs. But a seasoned chef would think you a silly goose for believing that you can’t prepare duck at home - because you absolutely can. The myth that says duck is difficult to prepare exists because many people mistake cooking duck like chicken; when rather, it should be treated like a steak. We’ll just pause and let that sink in for a moment.
Now that you’ve been enlightened, you’ll be happy to know that you needn’t limit yourself to enjoy this flavourful and succulent red meat. There are many ways to cook duck in your own kitchen, and quite easily at that too! In this feature, we talk to Luv-a-Duck, one of Australia’s beloved brands, who offers hands-on experiences through cooking classes and demonstrations, so you can learn how to use every duck part, from the breasts and legs, to the all-important drippings, to prepare a duck feast.
Read on to find out more about what goes on in a Luv-a-Duck class. Also, book a class this month and you can bring a friend for free!
What is unique about Luv-a-Duck and your workshops?
That we have a unique product (duck)! People are often scared to cook duck, for some reason. Our classes aim to take the fear away from cooking duck, hence our flagship cooking class is 100% hands-on and is called Duck Demystified.
What do you love most about running the classes? What is the toughest part?
We are always meeting lots of very passionate cooks, and it is great to see the enthusiasm people have for cooking. Having someone learn how easy it is to cook duck, and then seeing the joy they get when they produce a high-quality duck dish in our classes is very rewarding.
The toughest part is having 8 - 10 people with differing cooking skill levels, all cooking together and coordinating them to finish around the same time for the banquet, that is served as a result of all of the cooks’ dishes from the class.
What are the most interesting discoveries students make in the classes?
That cooking duck is simple and easy to achieve at home. And of course, that it’s delicious!
Also that duck is a member of the water fowl family, not poultry and is prepared much more like red meat than chicken. It can be cooked rare, as it does not harbour the bacteria Salmonella like chicken does.
What are proving to be Luv-a-Duck’s most popular courses at the moment?
Our flagship class Duck Demystified (Hands-On) is still the most popular. However, in saying that, many people return to do all of the Hands-On classes including Duck and Brown Brothers Wine matching Master Class, Asian Duck Banquet Class, Cuisine de Canard (French style) Cooking Class, Duck Fingerfood Class. We also run demonstration classes and lots of Christmas-focused classes in November and December
What’s the best way to cook duck: on the grill, in the pan, or under the broiler?
Come in and do a class and we can show you how easy it is to cook duck and how versatile it is! Crispy roast duck is still the easiest and tastiest way to cook duck in my opinion. Roast Duck cooks in a hot 190℃ fan-forced oven for 40 minutes per Kg. It is self-basting with the lovely layer of fat and does not need any seasoning or stuffing. Easy done and delicious. 👌🏼
Duck legs are best cooked long and slow in a braising liquid for 90 to 120 minutes.
The duck breast is cooked fast, and just like a fillet steak, sealing the outside of the duck in a hot pan before finishing in the oven is best for accurate cooking (perfect medium rare is what we are looking for). Duck breast is cooked 3-4 minutes skin side down in a hot pan, then flipped to the flesh side for 1 minute. It is then removed from the pan and placed on an oven tray, and put in 190℃ fan-forced oven for 6 - 8 minutes, then removed from the oven and allowed to rest in a warm spot for 5 minutes before serving
If you had to name the most important technique to master in cooking duck, what would that be?
Cooking the duck breast fillet is a great technique to master and it is so easy. Impress your friends with perfectly cooked duck breast with a side of duck fat roasted potatoes and a fresh salad of rocket, walnuts, orange segments, goats cheese and a simple dressing - and you have a restaurant quality dish in no time at all. 👍🏼
What keeps you up at night, as someone who manages the classes?
Having enough classes and enough varied classes to keep up with demand. Also making sure all of our staff are up to the same high-level that we expect, so that people attending the class always receive a high-quality cooking class with plenty of high-quality cooking tips and information, and overall making sure of a wonderful experience for our guests.
Do you have any tips for people who want to improve their cooking?
If you want tips on how to better your duck cooking, or you simply want to take the mystery out of cooking duck, come and do a class in our Port Melbourne Duck Cooking School with a professional and fun environment - you will not be disappointed.
Does Luv-a-Duck have some exciting projects in the works?
Luv-a-Duck always has something exciting coming up, whether it is new products to try, or exciting marketing campaigns. Currently we are releasing a “Korean Duck Bao Kit”, which is delicious; and also looking at new cooking classes including a “duck as a street food class”.
Let’s close with a fun question: If you had a time machine, would you go forward or back? Where to?
No point in living in the past - what is done is done, always move forward! I would go forward just enough to get the winning numbers to TattsLotto and take my family on a holiday around the world. 😊
All you need to know about cooking duck is right here!