Could duck replace turkey on our Christmas tables?

This text is part of the special Plaisirs booklet

Not so long ago, few Quebecers knew that duck could be eaten other than lacquered, in an orange sauce. But since the beginning of the 2000s, local companies have worked hard to make it known. Here is how, over the years, duck breast, breast and confit have carved out a place of choice on the tables of Quebec.

Quebecers have long considered duck to be top-of-the-range meat that can only be eaten in restaurants. Today, few are those who have not yet tasted it. However, before reaching this threshold of popularity, this poultry encountered some pitfalls.

“First of all, we had to help people get to know duck well,” explains Sébastien Lesage, owner of Canard Goulu, a Saint-Apollinaire company founded in 1997. At the time, he was convinced that the Quebec consumer, a great enthusiast good wines, fine cheeses and other delicacies, was ready to put this bird on his plate.

You should know that the duck is a poultry, but its meat is red, and successful cooking will keep the meat pink. If it is overcooked, like a chicken, the duck loses quality in terms of taste and texture.

However, at the time, this information was unknown. “Everyone thought that cooking duck was difficult. It was especially popular with Asian communities, ”recalls Brigitte St-Julien, Marketing Director at Canards du Lac Brome. The company, founded in 1912, took on the challenge of making the product more accessible to Quebecers and educating the population about it.

The duck could one day become the favorite poultry of Quebecers at Christmas, because it can be prepared in 1001 sauces, it is versatile and always festive.

It is by introducing new products, such as confit of duck thigh and Dijon and honey breast, that Canards du Lac Brome has succeeded in attracting Quebecers to duck meat. “These are products that are so easy to prepare, you just need to heat them up,” explains Brigitte St-Julien. Moreover, these products are among the most popular of the company, even 20 years later. Over time, others have emerged: liver pâtés, rillettes, wing drumsticks, smoked meat, and even duck bacon.

Duck for a more local diet

According to government data, in 2019, there were 76 farms producing farm birds (geese and ducks) in Quebec. Canard Goulu specializes in Muscovy ducks, while Canards du Lac Brome raises Peking ducks.

The two companies are producer producers, that is to say they raise their own ducks, and this, using breeding methods respectful of the environment and the quality of life of the birds, in addition to transform them themselves. Everything is done on site or nearby, thus minimizing the stress undergone by the animals during transport, in addition to creating jobs in their region.

“It’s egg to plate, with us,” says Brigitte St-Julien. Other local businesses follow a similar model, such as Les Canardises in Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges or Canard du Village in Saint-Pie.

“Since it is a quality meat produced locally, some flexitarians allow themselves to eat duck,” says Sébastien Lesage, also adding that the environmental impact of duck production is less compared to other red meat, such as beef. or lamb.

Now you just have to put your preconceived ideas about the duck aside and have a taste. As for its taste appreciation, duck meat can not be compared to that of chicken, nor that of beef, nor to game birds. “It’s very delicate, it’s not wild meat,” insists Sébastien Lesage.

According to him, if you choose your piece of meat according to what you usually like, there is no risk of making a mistake. If we like rare meat, then we choose the duck breast. Those who prefer well-cooked meat will like the confit thigh. And to feed a large group, we opt for the whole duck roasted in the oven.

Duck instead of turkey

Could duck ever replace Christmas turkey? “I think so,” says Sébastien Lesage. People cook turkey a little less, because it’s a big poultry, and they’re getting fewer people now. Duck lends itself well to small tables. “

The duck is no longer reserved only for the end of the year celebrations, as it once was. It is also popular at Easter and during the barbecue season. Moreover, “burger patties, sausages and tournedos are good ways to learn about duck,” says the owner of Canard Goulu.

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