How to Render Duck Fat and Duck Cracklins
- 1 pound of duck fat and skin trimmings (You should be able to get this from one duck after you have removed the breast, leg and thigh meat. Alternately, you can hit up your friendly local butcher for duck fat and skin trimmings. )
- 1/4 cup fresh water
Cut the skin and fat into pieces that are roughly 1-inch in size. Put in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan with a capacity of at least 3 quarts. A wider bottomed pan is more efficient for this application.
Pour the water over the trimmings and place the pan, partially covered, over the lowest heat possible. As the trimmings and water warm up in the pan, fat will begin rendering (being made liquid) and water will start evaporating. This will sound a bit like a gently sputtering boil.
The white fatty bits will slowly transform into lightly golden brown, crispy goodies. As soon as they reach this stage, use a slotted spoon to remove the cracklins to a paper towel lined plate. The process can take anywhere from an hour to three hours, so I don’t recommend leaving the pan unattended for long. When the cracklins are on the lined plate, sprinkle with salt, to taste, and set aside. These can be eaten as a snack, baked into cornbread, sprinkled over salads or hearty soups like croutons, or used just about anywhere else you would use crisped bacon.
Turn your attention to the duck fat. For the clearest duck fat, line a fine mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth. If you’re in a hurry, a stainless-steel fine mesh strainer alone will suffice. Carefully pour the hot liquid fat through the strainer (lined if you so choose) into a jar or other clean, food-safe receptacle with a tight fitting lid. Fit the lid in place and store your liquid gold in the refrigerator for up to a year. It will become semi-solid and opaque in its chilled state, this is to be expected. Use duck fat to roast potatoes, make the ultimate French fries, sear or confit meats, or whatever sinful tasks you devise for it.