Our apprentices have gone quackers at Cornish Duck by Jane Sarchet
Last month’s sourcing trip saw the Fifteen Cornwall trainee chefs visit Cornish Duck, the glorious farm in central Cornwall that supplies the restaurant with the most wonderful free range duck.
The students had a tour of the farm, hatchery and processing rooms which included a quick lesson in poultry butchery. Watching them take it on board, and seamlessly get down to butchering their ducks, highlighted how far they’d all come in just a few short months of working together.
Cornish Duck is run by husband and wife team, Tanya & Roger, and the quality of the meat they produce is second to none.
Tanya is responsible for collecting and setting the eggs in the incubators, and four weeks later rearing the freshly hatched ducklings under heat lamps until they are old enough to be moved outdoors and into the lush green paddocks. Carrying freshly hatched ducklings from the incubator to the heat lamps caused even the toughest chef to melt just a little bit!
Roger oversees the butchery and you’ll often find him at local farmers market and events. They sell everything from the entire oven ready duck to duck burgers, duck fat (which makes the best roast potatoes) and your weekend fry-up essential Drakes Pudding, which is a very tasty twist on the traditional Cornish hogs pudding.
The breeds used to produce their ultimate table birds are unique to Cornish Duck and top secret. The meat has the perfect ratio of fat to muscle, ensuring a perfectly tender and juicy result in the kitchen and they have chefs across the south west queuing up to buy their meat.
One thing that struck me as we wandered the farm was how lightly stocked the paddocks were. The birds had plenty of room to run around and forage and it was evident listening to both Tanya and Roger talk about their birds that their welfare is paramount to them.
Come lunch time, the BBQ was fired up and we all enjoyed a duck burger, before 21 year old Callum was awarded July’s Apprentice of the Month.
It turns out Callum lives on a smallholding and wandering round the Cornish Duck farm he was impressed to see that whilst the animals were grown on a much bigger scale, they still managed to maintain the touch of humanity that smallholders are able to give their animals.