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Cutting Up a Duck


Harvey added this page as a sidebar to Ellen's article “Making Duck Confit”, published in the August/September 2008 issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine. It was posted to the site December 12, 2008.


1: Begin Breast Filet


5: Cut Thigh-Leg Joint


2: Complete Breast Filet


6: Carcass


3: Cut off Wing


7: Ready for the Chef


4: Cut Thigh Joint

After slaughtering our ducks, I rarely leave them whole, since we prefer our geese for roasting. Instead, I filet the breasts in two halves, setting them aside for elegant grilled dishes, the simpler the better, cooked quite rare. The rest of the meaty parts—legs, thighs, and wings—we reserve for hearty and satisfying braised dishes such as duck with red cabbage, apples, and onions—or for Ellen's incomparable confit. The ribs and backs—and sometimes the wing pinions as well—go into the stockpot.

Here are a few pictures to show you how I cut up a duck. (Remember that, as everywhere in this site, clicking on a thumbnail image will call a larger image and additional text.)

Note that the ducks pictured here were summer ducks, lacking heavy deposits of fat in the lower abdomen and under the skin around neck, thigh, and elsewhere. Fall-slaughtered ducks yield a good deal of such fat, which should always be saved, rendered, and used as high-quality cooking fat rich in flavor and nourishing fat-soluble vitamins.