I buy my ducks from the Asian market down the street. Not only is it the most economical choice, but it’s the most fun option. These ducks come with the head and neck attached, and the neck is a treat.
If, like me, you are in the habit of buying truly whole ducks, I urge—no, beg—you to save the neck, then chop it up into little pieces and deep fry it. I am not the first to think of or suggest this, obviously, as duck necks are common in Asian cuisine. But white American duck eaters tend to be a little too focused on the breasts and legs.
There isn’t a ton of meat on a duck neck, but one could say the same about chicken wings. Scraping meat off a bone with one’s teeth is a visceral, delightful experience, and one that duck necks provide with little effort on your part.
A lot of duck neck recipes call for you to blanch the necks, but I didn’t do any of that. I thawed the two necks that had been hanging out in my freezer for two years, and separated them from the head. You may have to do a little peeling, and cut away some skin and connective tissue to free the neck; just be patient and go slowly. Cut the head off at the base of the skull, then cut the neck into five pieces. That’s it. That’s all the prep I did.
Once you’ve got your neck pieces, all you have to do is fry them. Pour a couple of inches of neutral oil into a cast iron pan or Dutch oven, and heat it somewhere in between 350℉-375℉. Add the necks to the hot oil and fry for a few minutes each side. The necks will sputter and splatter, so don’t stand close at the beginning. The sputtering will die down as the water cooks off, signifying your necks are close to being done.
Once the necks are golden brown, remove them from the oil and season them with whatever dry seasoning blend you like. I hit mine with Lawry’s garlic salt, and it was great, but play around with different spices. Fried duck necks are crispy, savory, and a little chewy. In short, they’re a fun snack made with only a few ingredients, one of which you might be tempted to toss. Don’t toss your duck necks. Fry them. Then gnaw on them. Gnawing is underrated.