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Moulard Duck, a Unique Specialty in French Region

Moulard Duck, a Unique Specialty in French Region

Seared moulard duck breast.

Richmond Times

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Aquitaine region in the southwestern part of France. It’s a unique and beautiful place that oozes a rich and fierce history. There are 12th- and 13th- century castles that dot the banks of the Dordogne River and quaint villages and “bastides” (walled towns) that boast incredible outdoor markets brimming with local culinary specialties unique to this region of France.

Perigourdin black truffles, Agen prunes, tender Bazas beef, sweet, tart Perigord strawberries, salt-cured Bayonne ham, Espelette chili peppers (a legacy of the Spanish conquest) and, of course, plenty of wine are but a few of the gastronomic delights that await hungry travelers who venture to Aquitaine.

Yet there is one local specialty that is so divine and versatile, one could argue it defines the culinary focus of the region – that star is Moulard duck.

A cross between Muscovy duck and Peking duck, the Moulard is a foie gras-producing duck that is bred in groups on wide-open spaces and is the foundation for duck confit (duck leg poached in its own fat), duck rillettes (duck fat and meat pounded to a paste), pate, seared Magret duck breast and, of course, foie gras (fatty duck liver).

While visiting the region, I was fortunate enough to experience a one-of-a-kind Aquitaine-style feast at the Chateau des Baudry, a 17th-century mansion set in the vineyards and owned by Chef Helene Boulet and Francois Passebon. Now a chateau boasting five guest rooms, des Baudry’s charm is most clearly reflected by Boulet’s cooking, which is an honest and delightful exploration of the region’s gastronomy.

Boulet culls local specialties straight from her garden and from local producers (often friends) in the area.

Our meal began with cold carrot soup topped with fresh cumin cream. From there, we moved on to a pate of foie gras stuffed with fresh, local figs served with fresh baquette. Next up was the star of the show, a classic duck cassoulet consisting of duck confit, sausages and flageolet beans (a small, green kidney-shaped bean available only in the summer).