Magret de Canard or Lou Magret. - Duck Breast in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman


Magret de Canard Rôti  - Roast duck breast.

Magret de Canard or Lou Magret - Duck breast. Duck breast is extremely popular in France and will usually be served roasted or fried. Duck is served rosé, slightly pink inside, so if you want your duck breast cooked in a manner other than rosé, you should inform the server when ordering. In France, it is unlikely that you will be asked how you would like your duck cooked.
The duck breast on your menu mostly comes from the breasts of ducks raised for fattened duck liver, fois gras. The breasts of these ducks are much thicker and tastier than most other duck breasts, and they come with a thick covering of fat. Some of the fat may remain when the duck is served; however, it is easily removed as a touch of your knife, and the fat separates.
Duck breast on your menu in France:

Lou Magret Grillé aux Sarments de Vigne – Duck breast grilled over vine prunings. The pruning’s from vineyards are much in demand, and as you may expect, they add unique flavors to dishes that are grilled or barbecued over them. 
Vine Prunings.
When the term Lou Magret is on the menu, then the chances are that you in an area that was part of the pre-revolutionary French Province of Gascon. Gascon, Gascony. Gascony is now included in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine with some parts in Occitanie. Here some locals still speak the Gascon dialect of Occitan alongside their perfect modern French. Lou Magret is Occitan for the French magret de canard, duck breast. Offering duck breast as a separate dish, rather than serving a whole duck, began in Nouvelle Aquitaine, and now Magret de Canard is on menus all over France.

Many of France’s regions had their names and borders changed .on 1-1-2016. Then, France reduced the number of regions from 22 to 13.  For the visitor nothing has changed other than some confusion when using old guide books.
Apart from popularizing duck breast the old province of Gascon in Nouvelle Aquitaine, is famous for its AOP grape brandy Armagnac; the apéritif Floc de Gascogne; ducks; geese;  truffles; foie gras; Monbazillac wine; D’Artagnan, the fourth musketeer; Cyrano de Bergerac; Cuisine Périgourdine and much more.
Carpaccio d’Magret d'Oie – Goose breast Carpaccio. Goose breast.  Magret d’Oie, is also popular in France and will be prepared like duck breast. A goose breast is much larger than a duck’s breast and you will receive a half or less of a whole goose breast.
Carpaccio de Canard - Duck breast Carpaccio.
Magret de Canard au Miel - Duck breast in a honey sauce.

Magret de Canard au Poivre Vert – Duck breast in a green pepper sauce. For chefs, green pepper is the pepper of choice in almost all dishes with Au Poivre in their name. Green pepper corns allow the chef to offer the diner a controlled pepper experience.
Duck breast with green pepper sauce.
Magret de Canard Fumé - Smoked breast of duck. Smoked breast of duck has a flavor slightly similar to cured ham and is extremely popular. Smoked duck breast may also be part of a salad and served warm or cold or it may be very thinly sliced and served cold with fresh melon instead of recipe where cured ham is called for. Smoked duck, like smoked turkey and smoked goose, are all very popular in France.

Smoked duck breast.
Grilled leeks, mashed potatoe, braised kale and braised red cabbage
With a creamy black currant sauce

Magret de Canard Sauvage aux Figues Fraîches – Breast of wild duck prepared with fresh figs. Canard sauvage, wild duck, in season will be on quite a number of menus. When wild duck is on the menu go for it; it is entirely different to farm-raised duck. The much darker meat offers a contrast in tastes and textures that outclasses farm-raised duck; a wholly pleasurable experience and as organic and free range as you can get.  Wild duck will be on French menus between the end of September and the beginning of February.  Each French department sets its own dates for hunting wild game, and so the dates when wild duck is on the menu will vary as you travel around France.
Wild mallard duck
The male has the white collar.
When a menu does not identify the wild duck being served then it is almost always the canard colvert sauvage, the wild mallard duck. . The mallard duck is the most common wild duck in France and is probably the most common wild duck in the rest of the world, as well. In French, the duck’s name colvert refers to its green collar, the identifying mark of the male duck; the green collared duck. The mallard duck is also domesticated and farm-raised. If you are visiting France and wish to taste wild duck note that the duck hunting season, in most French departments, is from mid-September through the end of January.

Rémoulade au Magret de Canard Fumé et Cerneaux de Noix - Smoked duck breast served with a rémoulade sauce and walnuts. Sauce rémoulade is mayonnaise and mustard-based sauce made with cooked egg yolks, oil, and mustard; it is usually, but not always, prepared with added parsley and cornichons. 

The duck breasts on French menus come from the mulard, the moullard duck, which is not to be confused with the mallard duck. The moullard is a cross between the canard de Pékin, the Pekin duck, and the Canard de Barbarie,  the Muscovy duck.  The Pekin duck, in the USA, is commonly called the Long Island duck.

For a few of the other duck dishes on French menus click here:

The Mallard duck in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - ànec collverd ), (Dutch - wilde eend), (German – stockente). (Italian - germano reale), (Spanish - añade real , azulón), (Latin - anas platyrhynchos ).

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman


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