In Mexico duck is called pato. You only find it at European style restaurants. It is also very expensive. In La Paz or La Cruz we pay about 240 peso, about $18-20 usd, for an imported duck. I have not seen any Mexican ducks in any of the markets. Probably because I only shop for food on the coasts and not inland. There are probably lots of ducks running around Mexico City.
I love to cook duck - it is difficult to do correctly, with the skin a nice crisp brown, a very small layer of fat beneath, and the meat moist and still a bit rare. I have made quite a mess of cooking duck over the years. When I buy a duck my lovely wife will almost always yell at me “no duck on board! - too greasy! She is right about that. But like everything, its all in the cooking technique. When we had a house, many a time duck fat was splattered everywhere, and the house was filled with smoke from too high of heat.
On the boat - I try to keep duck cooking a bit more simple - yet still end up with the right product. Here is the recipe for a duck I just cooked while at anchor here in the El Mogote in front of La Paz. Marianne liked it a lot and did not really yell too much when I was making it - the no fuss duck….
One duck - boned
Duck back, wings, neck, and boned breast, roasted
½ cup chopped celery, carrots, onions
Bay leaves, thyme
Whole black pepper
2 tbs Tomato paste
Reduced duck stock
½ cup sliced dried apricots
2 tbs Controy - orange liquor
The key to this dish is the duck stock. I like to bone out the duck - its too complicated to go into this completely here. But I like to remove the breast with the leg and thigh still attached. The I separate the leg and thigh, removing the thigh bone. Then cleaning up the fat around the edges. You should be left with two pieces of meat. Removing the duck thigh, but leaving the leg bone attached, makes for a nice presentation. I remove the wings and cook those also - but they could just as easily go into the stock - not much meat there.
Take the duck carcass, including the neck, and sauté in the pressure cooker at low heat for about 30 minutes, until the duck turns to brown. This is a slow rendering of the fat from the duck. When completed, the duck should be pretty evenly brown. Pour off the fat. Add the celery, carrots and onions and stir around for about 5 minutes, add the garlic, then degalaze with about ½ cup wine. Add about one quart of water, the paste and herbs. Cook on high heat - 15 psi - in the pressure cooker for about 25 minutes.
When cooled a bit, strain the stock into another pan and slowly reduce to 1 cup - this might take up to 30 minutes - don‘t let it run away and burn.
Score the duck skin in several paces for each piece and fry, skin side down, on med/low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes, turning once. This will render the duck fat off. Watch the duck to make sure it does not get too brown. You are essentially pan roasting the duck. I used to flash fry the duck to brown the skin, then finish in the oven. This is way too much hassle, plus you loose all the toasty goodness that is left at the bottom of the pan.
Remove the duck pieces, set aside covered with foil. Pour out and reserve the duck fat - this is precious stuff - I use it to fry potatoes later. Add some chopped onions and garlic - you are using this as a substitute for shallots - which tend to be tough to find in MX. Stir around for a bit, and deglaze with more wine. Add the duck stock, and the rest of the ingredients. Reduce to as silky consistency - this should take no more than five minutes.
I like to slice the duck breast, then serve the cooked leg along side, covered with the sauce. This is a pretty good size serving - but one duck really only feeds about 2-3 people. I like to serve this with a simple brown and wild rice blend, and a few veggies on the side.