Friday, January 6, 2012

Proportion of Meat in a Duck

This is the third in my nerdy series of proportion of meat in various foods, which so far has included lobsters (32%) and chickens (36%). We bought a whole, frozen duck to make a Thai duck choo chee. Duck is a favorite of Anna's. Here's the breakdown:

Whole duck purchase weight: 6.0 lbs
Weight of bag of orange sauce: 0.6 lbs
Weight of duck without sauce: 5.4 lbs

Next I broke down the duck into pieces on the bone and trimmed off the excess skin, like I would prepare them for serving as pieces:

Weight of 2 breasts: 1.6 lbs
Weight of 2 legs: 0.4 lbs
Weight of 2 thighs: 0.7 lbs
Weight of 2 wings: 0.6 lbs
Weight of remaining back pieces: 1.2 lbs
Weight of neck and giblets: 0.5 lbs

Then I took the meat off the bones and skinned it. I measured it and compared it to the weight of the pieces with the bone and the weight of the whole duck (without the orange sauce):

Breast meat: 0.96 lbs, 60% of the breast parts, 18% of the whole duck
Leg meat: 0.28 lbs, 65% of leg parts, 5% of the whole duck
Thigh meat: 0.56 lbs, 78% of thigh parts, 10% of the whole duck
Wing meat: 0.25 lbs, 38% of wing parts, 5% of the whole duck
Back meat: 0.3 lbs, 26% of back parts, 6% of the whole duck

I found it interesting that thighs and legs had more meat as a ratio of their parts than the breast pieces. That's because the skin on a duck's breast is so thick and fatty. I also found it interesting that there was more meat on the back than on the wings.

Now the bottom line:

Meat to purchase weight ratio: 39%
Meat to whole duck (without the sauce) weight ratio: 43%
Parts to purchase weight ratio: 76%

I also found it interesting that even with all the junk in a packaged duck, the ratio of meat to purchase weight was more than for the chicken or the lobster.

Finally, not all junk is junk. Some people actually use the orange sauce, although I suspect it is included more to pump up the weight than as a service to the cook. The bones can be used for soup. And, Alton Brown calls duck fat "cook's gold." I rendered the fat from all that skin:

Weight of all duck skin: 1.4 lbs
Weight of duck fat: 1.1 lbs (about a cup)

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