New York City feasts on the bounty of the Hudson River Valley. When Washington Irving first brought this lush landscape to national attention in the early 1800s through his memorable characters of Ichabod Crane and the headless Horseman, the region was not yet known for the great delicacies and specialty foods it now provides.
Of all the products raised and grown in this bucolic region, one of the best known is duck, thanks in large part to the renowned Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Duck Company. Perhaps that is why so many restaurants in the area offer duck breasts on their menu—or perhaps it is because duck breast tastes much like red meat but is a far leaner and healthier choice. More and more supermarkets around the country have started carrying duck, thanks to increased awareness that all this great flavor comes in an easy-to-cook and wholesome food.
As is true with any poultry, the majority of the fat is in the skin. Unlike chicken and turkey, however, when you remove the skin the remaining duck meat still has plenty of rich satisfying flavor. Unlike other poultry breast, duck breast is often pink when thoroughly cooked. The USDA recommends duck breast be cooked to an internal temperature of 165F to ensure harmful bacteria are killed, but many food professionals believe duck can be consumed when cooked to 135 to 140F, at which point they prefer the flavor and texture.
By Marge Perry, a food writer in Tenafly, N.J.