Farmers' Kitchen—Green Mountain Ducks
North Branch Farm
Written onDecember 01 , 2009
North Branch Farm, in the mountains of Ripton, is an unlikely place for ducks, but we’ve been raising them on a very small scale each summer for the last four years. Pekins are our favorite meat ducks to raise—they’re fast growing and white and beautiful. And they have lots of fat.
“Lots of fat?” you might ask. “Why would we want that?” Or maybe you already know. Local duck fat is a localvore’s dream. Any food lover’s dream, actually. It is delicious to cook with as a replacement for oil or butter, and it keeps beautifully in a glass jar in the fridge. Plus it really prevents food from sticking to pans, better than any other grease we’ve tried. You can get a lot of fat from just one Pekin duck.
Duck has a certain mystique, too. Quite a few people have never tried it, but almost everyone seems to be interested in it. Very few farms in Vermont raise it, probably because ducks are a lot of work to butcher. Removing pinfeathers can be a tedious chore. But they are worth it and not very hard to raise. A Pekin duck takes only eight weeks or so to reach five or six lbs. dressed! We move our Pekins onto fresh grass each day. We’ve also raised other duck breeds—blue and silver Swedish, mallards, and khaki Campbells, and we may try Muscovies next year—along with other poultry and pigs. All are outside, roaming and foraging, and supplemented with organic grain.
Roast duck is our favorite. One large duck can feed four people or more, and you can make a delicious stock with the bones afterward. Of course there are all kinds of French delicacies made from the organs, like pâté and malgret. We’d like to try making those one day, but since we’ve been running a farm, we haven’t had as much time to cook as we’d like!
Kate Corrigan and Sebastian Miska run North Branch Farm on Lincoln Road in Ripton. To order contact them at 802-388-2059 or greenmountaingrown.com.
Photo courtesy of North Branch Farm