If you've been closely perusing D.C.’s restaurant menus as of late, you may have noticed there's been a heavier emphasis on duck. Fans of the dark meat have known all along that it’s a great protein choice, but now it appears to be a primary focus for many chefs.
Get you ducks in a row, and go check out these new (or notable) duck dishes immediately.
Look no further than this new spot from Chef Johnny Spero to know that duck is on trend right now. The duck dish here is air dried, lacquered with house spices, roasted to perfection for the crispy skin, finished with fennel pollen and Maldon salt, and served sliced. The side salad of raw fennel, marigold petals, and a beet juice and black licorice root reduction is a nice touch to cut the richness too. This dish serves two-four, so while you might not want to share, it is a substantial portion and is best enjoyed with fellow duck lovers.
Chef Adam Howard wanted to create a dish that represented original American style: creative, yet familiar. Howard starts by brining a Long Island White duck, before removing the legs and aging the remainder of the duck. The leg meat is blended with pork and foie gras to form a luxury version of D.C.’s iconic half smoke sausage; this process takes seven days. The aged duck is stuffed with the half-smoke, and smoked. It spends time in a steam oven, then gets lacquered with a cinnamon-infused maple syrup reduction before it’s finished in a high-heat, wood-burning oven to crisp the skin. Confit duck legs are added at the end to complete the bird, which is served with a dirty rice made with duck livers and a house-fermented kimchi made with collard greens and radishes. Only five or six ducks are available per night, so make a reservation.
The duck at Bresca comes with a show. Prepared in a 19th-century traditional duck press in classical French style, a roasted duck is put into the duck press and then compacted by the pressure exerted by rotating the wheel. All juices are then collected in a pan and strained, thickened and added to the duck. The dish is accompanied by several side dishes, like charred wild onion, wild onion pistou, grilled and glazed rainier, or you can make it even more luxurious and add foie gras to the meal. There are only four ducks available each night, available on a first come, first serve basis, but we highly recommend trying this dish to get a taste of what the culinary elite in France are used to.
An Asian twist on dry-aged duck is only available as a special on Fridays and Saturdays, and is served with peanut hozon curry, pickled pineapple, grilled bok choy and kaffir lime honey.
The dish at this upscale Mexican spot is meant to be shared. The Pato Al pastor comprises slow roasted duck cooked al pastor style and served with pineapple, onions, cilantro and corn tortillas.
My favorite Peking duck in the area can be found at this upscale eatery in Bethesda, by popular chef Peter Chang. The duck here is prepared in an elaborate five-step procedure that results in a rich, but not greasy, duck and the accompaniments are fantastic. Soft housemade pancakes, served with scallions, cucumbers and a sweet bean sauce are ideal for wrapping the delectable meat and crispy skin. Th best part? The Peking duck is available as an appetizer portion, half-size or a full-size, so you can get as much as you want and also save room for Q’s other delicious dishes.
For a more subtle, but delicious take on a duck pasta, Red Hen’s Saffron Creste di Gallo with braised duck ragu, spicy ‘nduja sausage, winter greens and pecorino hits the spot. The thick duck ragu is ladled over fresh pasta at this popular Italian restaurant, and you should enjoy it washed down with a nice glass of red wine.
Why not get some wings? Chef Alvin Dela Cruz’s take on happy hour at the West End Bistro in the Ritz Carlton, DC brings addictive honey glazed duck wings that are served with a side of pickled vegetables. This is the perfect dish for HH noshing along with a glass of wine.
The Pig serves duck? Yes, a delicious duck confit actually. Specifically, a moulard duck leg is cured for two days in five spices, and served with fig mostarda, delicata squash and duck fat roasted potatoes.
At the City Winery in Ivy City, duck is served in the form of tacos. Chef Brandon Ingenito’s braised duck tacos use tender Hudson Valley duck, served with tortillas, ‘quacamatillo’ salsa and cabbage slaw. Pair the tacos with their proprietary Pinot Noir and call it a day.
This subterranean spot offers a spice-crusted duck breast and a leg confit, served with cornbread pudding, kumquat and burnt honey jus. If you want to go all out on the duck front, start with the foie gras, which is seared and served with a warm carrot cake and pineapple marmalade.