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A Ducktionary

Thursday, March 11, 1999

By Marlene Parrish, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

White Pekin: This is the mild-flavored bird you're most likely to find in the supermarket freezer case. Accounting for nearly 95 percent of U.S. duck consumption, it is also known as a Long Island duckling.

The white Pekin originally made its way to New York, so goes the tale, on the ship of an American sea captain, who brought a bunch of eggs back with him from China. Those eggs hatched an industry. And from the 1850s to the 1950s, Long Island produced just about all of our commercial ducklings. When a land boom and suburban sprawl put most of the Long Island farmers out of business, large-scale production moved to the Midwest. In fact, Indiana is now the largest duck-producing state.

White Pekins are not to be confused with Peking Duck, a time-consuming Chinese gourmet dish made by hanging and drying the bird to render the fat and produce a crisp skin. To further confuse the semantics of the issue, most Peking duck is made with white Pekin ducks.

Muscovy: Their skin is less fatty than that of white Pekins. Originating in South America, these non-migratory birds evolved without the body fat needed to withstand cold climates and long commutes. They are the duck of choice in Europe, but make up only 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. market.

Moulard: These birds are a cross between a male Muscovy duck and a female white Pekin. Moulards are most often raised for the suave fattened livers called foie gras. Moulards make up about 1 percent to 2 percent of the U.S. market.

Magret: This is the large, richly flavored breast of a foie gras-producing duck.

Mallard: These are also known as wild ducks. Their meat is dark red and can be tough and gamey-tasting. Mallards are just beginning to be farm-raised.

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