Black Muscovy Ducks

       Ducks play a prominent role in the day to day goings-on at Yellow House Farm, but this, of course, is nothing new.  Ducks have been common farm poultry for many generations and with good reason.  Aside from being great fun and uniquely beautiful, ducks are remarkably productive fowl.  

       Duck meat is delicious and nutritious.  On account of their all around active natures, duck meat is all dark.  It is, perhaps, most commonly roasted, but duck meat is outstandingly versatile.  It is wonderful grilled with a sage marinade or braised with tomatoes, red wine and a bouquet garni.  Duck meat is also lovely made into lean sausage and used in all sorts of delicacies, from meatballs to stuffed grape leaves. 

       Duck meat is often thought to be extra fatty, but this is not necessarily the case.  The commercial duck industry is dominated almost exclusively by the Pekin.  It grows fast and fattens quickly.  Indeed, it is the fattiest duck, and its monopoly of the meat market has hurt the reputation of duck in general.  Duck meat, when not raised for fattness and quick gains, can be quite lean and remarkably flavorful. 

       At Yellow House Farm, we raised old-fashioned farm breeds that live in a free-range environment.  They are fit, muscled, and lean birds, hearty and tasty.  The difference between our birds and the commercially raised ducklings found at the supermarket is considerable.

       Another little known secret about ducks is that they are remarably prolific layers.  Indeed, the best laying duck lays more than the best laying chicken.  Moreover, duck eggs are larger, richer in protein and omega 3's, and are simply delicious, a gourmet addition to anyone's cookery.

           The Muscovy is a particular fowl, indeed; of this there can be no doubt.  Its large-sized, head-bobbing, caruncular appearence definitely makes for a curious first impression.  For some they are ugly, for some beautiful.  Still, for some, they look like a turkey.  Nevertheless, regardless of one's opinion as to their physical beauty, the muscovy is one personality-rich duck!  Moreover, they are excellent producers of flavorful meat in an easy-as-pie, hands-off manner, which makes them sine qua non for any serious homestead.

       The Muscovy is indigenous to Central and South America.  It was domesticated long ago by the Incas and first found its way to Europe via the explorations of the Spanish Conquistadores.  Ever since, it has been a staple of our cookery.  By nature it is a tree duck, which means it roosts in trees and nests in abandoned woodpecker hollows.  In its domestic form, it still loves to roost, lounging on fences and roof tops and flying about the yard.  Although the hens are strong flyers, the males are often to ponderous to sustain flight for long.  However, when the males are strong flyers, they are stunning, striking a massive appearence of power and agility.

       Hens are outstanding natural mothers, bringing off large broods of independent and adorable little ducklings multiple times a year.  A small flock of muscovies could supply an average-sized family with nutritious meat year-round.  Aside from being flavorful, they are also leaner and meatier than mallard-derivitive duck breeds.  We have found that the breast meat is particulary well used as the base for delicious sausage meat.

       When next you buy a muscovy roaster from Yellow House Farm, try preparing it in a slow roaster, marinated in red wine, blackberries, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks...not so shabby.


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