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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Magret de Canard or Lou Magret. - Duck Breast on French Menus.

Duck breast -  Magret de Canard
Behind the French Menu

Magret de canard rôti ; roast duck breast.
Photograph courtesy of Renée S. Suen

Magret de Canard or Lou Magret - Duck breast. Duck breast is extremely popular in France and will usually be served roasted or fried and sliced fairly thin.  Duck is served rosé, slightly pink inside. If you want your duck breast cooked in a manner other than rosé you should inform the server; in France it is unlikely that you will be asked how would like your duck cooked.
The duck breast on your menu comes from the breasts of ducks raised for fois gras; the breasts of these ducks are much thicker and tastier than most other duck breasts, and they come with a thicker covering of fat.  Some of the fat may remain when the duck is served; however it is easily removed; a touch of your knife and the fat separates.
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. In the USA, the Pekin duck is commonly called the Long Island duck.
The Pekin or Long Island duck           The Muscovy duck
courtesy of aubergene                 Photograph courtesy of aigledayres.
      (German – hausente),                                     (German – moschusente  barbarie-ente),(Italian  - anatra domestiche, pechino),           (Italian - anatra muschiata, anatra di
 (Spanish - pato blanco doméstico,                  (Spanish - canard musqué,
pato Pekín blanco).                            pata crillio ).
Goose Breast - Magret d'oie.
Magret d’Oie -  Goose breast. Goose breast is also popular on French menus and will be prepared like duck breast.  As a goose breast is much larger than a duck’s breast you will usually receive a half, or less of a whole goose breast.

Goose breast
Photograph courtesy of Nako
Your menu may offer:

Lou Magret Grillé aux Sarments de Vigne – Duck breast grilled over vine pruning’s. The pruning’s from vineyards are much in demand ,as you may expect, they add unique flavors to dishes  that are grilled or barbecued over them. 

Vine Pruning’s.
Photograph courtesy of cavestmathieu
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 région of Aquitaine with some parts in the Midi-Pyrénées; here there are  many locals  who 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 Aquitaine, and now duck breast, magret de canard, is on menus all over France.
Aquitaine having assumed most of Gascon is famous for  its the AOC wine brandy Armagnac; AOC apéritif Floc de Gascogne; ducks; geese;  truffles; foie gras; monbazillac  wine;  D’Artagnan, the fourth musketeer; Cyrano de Bergerac; Cuisine Périgourdine  and much more.   You will eat very well in Aquitaine.
Carpaccio d’Magret d'Oie – Carpaccio from goose breast.



Carpaccio de Canard with parmesan cheese. Duck breast Carpaccio.
Photograph courtesy of wallyg.

    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.
Photograph courtesy of fred_V.
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 salad.
Photograph courtesy of telepathicparanoia
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 cured ham. Smoked duck, like smoked turkey and smoked goose, are all very popular in France.
Magret de Canard Rôti aux Abricotes Duck breast roasted with apricots.
Rémoulade au Magret de Canard Fumé et Cerneaux de Noix - Smoked duck breast served with a rémoulade sauce and walnuts. Sauce rémoulade is a 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. 
 Magret de Canard Sauvage aux Figes Fraîches – Breast of wild duck prepared with fresh figs.  Canard sauvage, wild duck, in season will be on quite a number of menus; wild duck has a stronger taste as well as a much darker meat than their farm raised cousins.  After your first taste of wild duck, you will realize that not everything that walks like a duck and quacks like a duck may taste like a duck, or at least not like a wild duck.  

Wild mallard duck
Photograph courtesy of Phil du Valois
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 départements, is from mid-September though the end of January. The Mallard duck: (German – stockente). (Italian - germano reale), (Spanish - añade real),

Bryan G. Newman    

Behind the French Menu

Copyright 2010, 2012, 2013


For more information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman




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