What to Eat in France: Cou de Canard Farci, or Duck Neck Stuffed with Foie Gras and Duck Breast
Stuffed duck neck is considered a delicacy in the Southwest of France. It is often bought conserved in duck fat in jars, sold along with cassoulet, gizzards and other specialties from the region.
Stuffed poultry neck is not particular to France, however. In German, it is called helzel; in English, magel, in Hungarian halsli, and in Yiddish falsa kishke (Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, by Gil Marks). Outside France, it is known as a dish for the poor, since it is usually stuffed with inexpensive ingredients such as bread, matzah meal, giblets and other inexpensive starches so as to stretch the meat as far as possible.
The addition of foie gras in the French version makes it out of the reach of the poor, although many farmers in the Southwest raise ducks, so they get the foie gras from their own ducks.
In France, this is eaten as a starter with green salad and/or potatoes fried in duck fat, but it could just as easily make a main course for lunch.
4/10 cup milk
2 slices of white sandwich bread
1 bunch Italian parsley
1-11-oz. duck breast
1.8 oz. raw foie gras
1 duck neck
4 1/2 T. duck fat
Freshly ground pepper
Large mixing bowl
Large, deep frying pan
Blowtorch or gas burner
Butcher’s string or toothpicks
- Warm milk.
- Cut bread into cubes.
- Pour milk in a large bowl and soak bread cubes in it.
- Mix to form a sort of bread soup.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Beat egg.
- Finely chop parsley. Add parsley and egg to bread and mix.
- Remove fat from duck breast. Chop fat into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Grind duck breast.
- Cut foie gras into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Mix meat from duck breast and foie gras together until smooth.
- Mix “bread soup” and half of the fat cubes from the duck breast.
- Add ground duck breast and foie gras mixture to this.
- Mix well.
- Use a blowtorch to singe the duck neck. If you don’t have a blowtorch, singe it over the flame of a gas burner.
- Rub it clean and remove bone, taking care not to pierce the skin of the neck.
- Use toothpicks to close one end of neck, or better yet, sew it closed with butcher’s string.
- Fill the opening in the other end with the stuffing, cramming it in as tightly as possible.
- Close the other end of the neck in the same manner.
- In a large, deep frying pan, melt the duck fat over low heat.
- Add the other half of the duck breast fat cubes.
- Over low heat, cook stuffed neck in this fat for 30 or 40 minutes, until neck is soft and steeped in the fat. It is done you prick it with a fork and the juice runs out transparent (not pink).
- Serve warm with green salad and/or fried potatoes.
Note: If the “sausage” is kept in the fat, it will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. It can either be served cold or warm. To eat it warm, remove from the refrigerator one hour before eating. Slice and heat in frying pan for one minute on each side to get rid of some of the fat or until skin is slightly grilled. In the Southwest, they would fry the potatoes in duck fat.
This recipe was inspired by Recettes et Terroirs.