It’s holiday time, and a whole roasted bird is the centerpiece of the celebration. Here’s where to buy locally raised ducks and geese, and heritage breed turkeys, too.
Try it out: Our favorite restaurant poultry dishes
Duck breast: The chefs at Crush have a way with duck breast, rendering the fat beneath the skin until it’s crackling, and leaving the meat rosy and tender. A recent version accented the breast meat with sassafras, giving it a lovely aromatic allure, all atop chewy local farro and swathed in a dreamy onion-mascarpone soubise ($27).
Peking duck: Wild Ginger’s subtly spiced duck has been on the menu as long as we can remember, but it still hits the spot—pulled from the bone and placed into soft, warm buns and then dotted with plum sauce and a dusting of Szechuan salt ($14.50 for one person, or $23.50 for two to share).
Duck burgers: Much has been written about Maria Hines’ miniature duck burgers at Tilth ($16 for two), and rightly so: The thick, juicy patties are simply wonderful, topped with a sweet house-made ketchup and a touch of hot mustard. The homemade fingerling potato chips aren’t too shabby, either.
Whole roasted duck: The 14-day dry-aged Muscovy duck for two ($96) at Canlis is our pick for a big-ticket splurge. The aging process concentrates the natural flavor of the meat, and the drying process helps the lacquered skin emerge from the oven a crisp, mahogany brown. Perfumed with plum, prunes and Marco Polo tea, this dish will make you want to sneak bites off your partner’s plate long after you’ve licked yours clean.
Goose: It’s tricky finding good goose meat in Seattle. That is, unless you head to The Corson Building, where chef Matt Dillon sometimes cooks the legs as confit, and other times braises the whole bird in rendered duck fat and then crisps it up in a wood oven. Salivating yet? Call ahead, as Dillon cooks goose only occasionally throughout the holiday season.
Lush liver: Heaven on earth is a bite of Restaurant Zoë’s quivering Sonoma foie gras ($22), butter-seared to a gorgeous mahogany crust and then, oh my, set atop a peach tarte Tatin. Simply lovely.
Choice cuts: What to look for at your butcher/grocer
Whole: Olympia-based Stokesberry Sustainable Farms is known for its pasture-raised chicken and eggs, but Jerry and Janelle Stokesberry also raise Peking ducks, usually in the 4- to 6-pound range, which are available whole at the Ballard Farmers’ Market. $7.50/pound.
Breast: At Whole Foods, Mary’s Free Range (California) duck breasts have a gorgeous layer of fat beneath the skin, perfect for rendering to a crisp crust. $12.99/pound.
Legs: Cassoulet or duck confit on the menu? Pick up duck hind quarters at Uwajimaya. $4.79/pound.
Whole: Cindy Krepky raises beautiful geese in pasture at her Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation. You can purchase the birds whole (most in the 5- to 8-pound range) directly from the farm or at Rain Shadow Meats and Bill the Butcher, for $10/pound.
THE PERFECT BIRD
Gobble, gobble a local, free-range turkey this holiday season
Want a turkey that tastes more like a bird (and less like a ball of butter)? Heritage breed, pasture-raised turkeys fit the bill. But while many local farms are raising these beautiful turkeys (including breeds like Bourbon Red, Standard Bronze and Narragansett), they’re usually available only by special order, and many sell out months in advance. Still, it’s worth a shot to call local farmers to see if there are any left this year (and to put your name on the list for next year).
Some of our favorite turkey farmers include Olympia’s Stokesberry, Enumclaw’s Meadowwood Organics, Carnation’s Dog Mountain Farm, Enumclaw’s BrocLynn Farms, Seattle’s Home Acres Farms and Oak Harbor’s Amy’s Garden.
And if cooking the whole bird doesn't sound like your cup of tea, call Bob's Quality Meats in Columbia City, where whole smoked turkeys are available by special order; you just warm the bird for an hour, and voilà!
Published November 2010
More articles from our Meat issue
Carnivore's Guide: Bacon!
Carnivore's Guide: A Burger for every budget
Carnivore's Guide: Charcuterie
Carnivore's Guide: Chicken
Carnivore's Guide: Duck, Turkey, and Goose
Carnivore's Guide: Game: Venison, Elk, Wild Boar
Carnivore's Guide: Lamb
Carnivore's Guide: The Meatless Meats
Carnivore's Guide: Offal
Carnivore's Guide: Pork
Carnivore's Guide: Sausages
Carnivore's Guide: The Steakhouses
Carnivore's Guide: The Art of Butchering
Carnivore's Guide: Butcher Shops and Meat Markets
Carnivore's Guide: The Seattle Meat Directory