Rare duck breast with cardamom seasoning. Recipe on the MapleLeafFarms.com. Photo courtesy Maple Leaf Farms.
Updated January 2010
Maple Leaf Farms Duck
Which Duck Product Is Best For You?
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About Maple Leaf Farms
Maple Leaf Farms has grown from 280,000 ducks in 1958 to processing more than 15 million animals today, most of which are raised on small family farms, often Amish or Mennonite. Donald Wentzel, who started the farm in Milford, Indiana, believed that the duck industry would blossom once more consumers were exposed to the succulent and versatile meat.
Maple Leaf Farms continues as a family operation, managed today by the founder’s son-in-law and grandsons. The company produces a variety of quality duck products, both raw and pre-cooked.
The ducks live free-range in open barns, not cages. A poultry nutritionist formulates a natural, grain-based diet, so the ducks get no antibiotics, steroids or hormones. The company takes pride in the care given to its animals. Maple Leaf Farms became the first duck producer in North America to implement a set of care guidelines and a certification program, approved by university-level animal welfare specialists, for the staff and growers. Its operations are audited by an independent team of animal care experts.
You can purchase whole or raw duck parts and cook them yourself, or purchase half roasted duck, roasted duck breasts and legs cooked by the pros.
Maple Leaf Farms Duck Products
From the broad menu of Maple Leaf Farms products, we tasted the following:
The “Simply Duck” line offers three flavors of fully-cooked, boneless, sliced duck breasts. The meat is ready in 2 ½ minutes in the microwave or 15 minutes in the oven. The microwave is great when you find yourself in a time crunch, although we recommend the oven for slightly crispier skin. A hybrid solution is to follow the microwave directions, reducing the time by 15 seconds; then placing the duck breast, skin side up, under the broiler to crisp the skin.
- Chipotle. This flavor is perfect for the spice lover. We enjoyed it, but recommend a tall glass of water or beer to counter the heat.
- Original (Salt & Pepper). This duck is juicy and flavorful. Sometimes the simplest recipe is the best—this was our favorite by far.
- Roasted Garlic. Expect a thick layer of skin with profound garlic flavors. If you’re a garlic lover, then this one is for you. Otherwise, the garlicky skin is easy enough to remove.
For people who want more duck in their life—with less fuss and less muss—“Simply Duck” is simply divine.
- Duck Leg Confit: Making confit de canard is no easy task; we’re glad that Maple Leaf Farms did the work for us. We felt regal eating such a sumptuous and filling duck leg. There’s plenty of tender and juicy meat to enjoy; all we did was heat it in the microwave!
- Roast Half Duck. The Roast Half Duck is one of the company’s flagship products, and has become a regular on our dinner table. This ready-to-heat-and-eat duck is the same product sold in many restaurants, where the chef dresses it with a sauce and serves it to you. We keep several of these half quackers in the freezer, thaw them a few hours in advance, and present our own duck dishes with a flourish (although here, too, Maple Leaf Farms has done 90% of the work). You can microwave, bake or grill the duck and enjoy it plain or with your favorite sauce (last night we had it with Chukar Cherries’ cherry barbecue sauce; last week with a Dijon mustard glaze). It’s available in two flavors: Original and Rotisserie Herb. If you love duck (as we do) but are relegated to eating it at restaurants because you find it too messy to cook from scratch (again, as we do), Maple Leaf Farms Roast Half Duck will be one of your favorite NIBBLE food finds.
- Raw Duck Breasts. The raw breasts from Maple Leaf Farms are far superior to the generic Pekin duck breasts we have purchased at our local supermarket. They are are plump and sweet, with an intense duck flavor. Even when we accidentally overcooked some of the breasts, they still were good—although we still strongly recommend that they be served rare or medium rare.
Continue To Page 4: Cooking Duck: Tips & Duck Recipe
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