Killing the Ducks

Jan 26, 2012 by

I see duck occasionally in the local supermarkets around here and sometimes I am tempted, but they are invariably just fatty with little real flavour.  I have a friend who rears poultry and she has given me some of her ducks in the past.  They really are a different beast.  Much smaller and not as meaty and somehow the fat seems different – not so lardy.  My passion at the moment is Cassoulet so rather than buy a “lardy” duck I decided to get some from my friend.  However, she said although she had some ready to go she did not want to kill them.

I decided if I was prepared to eat them, then I should be prepared to kill them right?  Now, I have never killed anything in the past but how difficult can it be?  Two ducks arrived yesterday evening in a box.  I was also getting a new Khaki Campbell for egg laying and she was duly transferred into the duck house.  The time came to kill the other two and cautiously I opened the box.  Inside were two male Aylesbury ducks, white fluffy with yellow legs.  The “puddle-ducks” of my childhood.  I picked one up gently and could feel his little heart pumping with fear.  My son and a friend were here to do the job.  My one request was that I did not want to see the actual act but that they must make it fast.  My son looked scared and apprehensive and I was thankful that I had brought up a human with a love and respect for animals.  He had looked up on the internet how to do it and settled on the River Cottage method.  Hugh said they are the most difficult animals to kill as they look so cute!  Not an easy comment to read when you are about to do the job.

The two of them gently took the duck from my arms and carried him out.  Two hits and he was dispatched but they had to hold him for a good few minutes while he continued to twitch.  The second one was the same and then we had to start plucking.  My son informed me he had been dreading it but it was easier than he had thought and at least he was happy it was fast and humane.

Plucking is a nightmare and not only do they have the familiar duck feathers they have a deep layer of “eiderdown”, beautifully soft and white.  I was tempted to try to save some.  We spent over an hour trying to remove all the quills and gave up and decided to gut them.  I wanted to save the livers and the heart so we removed these carefully.

Today we have to finish trying to remove all the quills, which may be easier now they are cold.  I am hoping to confit the legs today and remove the breasts from one and to roast the other.

How do I feel now?  Well last night I had nightmares about finding my new hens running around headless.  So it certainly has had an effect on me and I did not even watch the act.  But at least I know that these ducks were reared free to roam and had a natural, happy life.  I think it would get much easier to do subsequently but the first time is always going to be difficult.  One comment that stuck with me was from my son.  He said “it’s just as well we are not trying to conceal a murder scene, because if we were, we would not have done a very good job”!

Killing Ducks   Khaki Campbell  Aylesbury  River Cottage  Duck Recipes

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Maggie, You are one of my winners of a Liebster Blog Award. Details are on my blog, at http://cakesbakesandotherbits.blogspot.com – Colette

  2. Indeed it is. Actually the most tedious part. And I am very proud of him as he is a big softie but he would kill me for saying that!!

  3. Well done… not an easy task, and bet you are proud of your son. The plucking is a nightmare, isn't it!

    Margaret

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