Whenever I have the chance to travel back to France, I always end up spending hours at the supermarket. You might call it "product research" (and it often is). I just don't get tired of looking at all the wonderful foods I used to take for granted: the charcuterie and the cheeses, of course; but also some particular cuts of meat that are always absent from our meat departments; or the number of different grades of chicken available at any single store. Most of all, the kinds of products that are considered "exotic" by American standards can be found day-in and day-out at the average supermarket, even away from large cities: the right beef cuts for pot-au -feu, some noix de veau for a perfect veal roast, a plump guinea fowl, a duck that doesn't loose half its weight in the oven...
Several years ago, I was introduced to a couple of French expatriates. Claude and Pascale Bigo had been sent to California on a mission: Grimaud Frères, a French company established in the Loire Valley, wanted to bring their expertise to the United States and set up a subsidiary in California. For over 20 years, Grimaud had been researching the Muscovy duck's genetics (it is known in France as the Canard de Barbarie) and had perfected the breeding of this variety of duck to the point where the Muscovy ducks became Europe's most popular breed. This unsurpassed legacy found its way into the United States in 1985 when Claude left France to preside over Grimaud Farms of California.
Needless to say that I never got excited about the frozen, fatty ducks that I would (sometimes) find at the local supermarket. After meeting Claude, I finally had a source for really good duck. I was already somewhat familiar with the Muscovy breed, since my grandparents used to raise them when I was a child. Grimaud's ducks brought back wonderful memories of Sunday lunches in the Southwest of France with my family and I thought that something so tasty had to be shared with more people. Until a few years ago, you had to go to a fancy restaurant to try Grimaud's products: famous chefs like Daniel Boulud, Jean Louis Palladin and Michel Richard serve them in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, respectively. In September 1994, Claude and I decided that we should also make these products available to home cooks and thought we would test the idea with some of Joie de Vivre's customers. The response was enthusiastic, and the feedback very positive. What started out as a special program for the holidays then became available year around.
The Muscovy breed: a: leaner and tastier duck
Because it originated from the warm climates of South America, the Muscovy duck needs no fat for protection against cold weather. It is by far the leanest domesticated duck breed, with 30% less fat and up to 50% more breast meat than the traditional white Pekin! It is flavorful and tender, low in sodium and calories. Did you know that Muscovy ducks have less fat and less calories per pound than turkey?
Consistent quality and taste
Capitalizing on the long experience of its parent company in France, Grimaud Farms is a fully integrated operation that controls every facet of the production, from the hatching of the ducklings to the packaging in its state-of-the-art USDA inspected plant. The ducks are raised naturally and fed a carefully balanced diet, free of preservatives, for the best possible yield and flavor. Products are packed in special pouches and vacuum-sealed for convenience and freshness. You may choose between hens (female ducks) or drakes (males ducks, which are quite a bit larger). You may also purchase duck parts, like the leg/thigh cut or the juicy, tender magrets (breasts) that can be simply grilled, sliced diagonally and served with a splendid green peppercorn or raspberry sauce. In addition, Grimaud offers a line of ready-to-eat duck products: smoked duck magret, wholde smoked duckling, duck prosciutto and duck confit, which is traditionally served with Potatoes Sarladaises or with a simple green salad.
Visit Grimaud's own website
We invite you to visit Grimaud's web site to chek out nutritional information on their products. You will gain additional knowledge on the farms, the plants, the way the birds are raised, etc.www.grimaud.com
Our recipes with Muscovy duck:
Duck Breast with Three Peppercorns-Filets de Canard aux trois Poivres
Duck Breast in Salt Crust-Duo de Magrets en Croûte de Sel
Duck Fricassée with White Beans-Fricassée de Canard aux Haricots Blancs
Duck Legs with Garlic and Lime-Cuisses de Canard à l'Ail et au Citron Vert
Duck with Olives and Mushrooms-Canette aux Olives et aux Champignons
Duck with Peaches-Canard aux Pêches