I texted a good friend of mine, a professional chef who actually cooks at home: “Do you know where to get duck legs retail?” The last word was necessary; his idea of meat involves 50-pound boxes.
He said I’d have to get a whole bird, which I didn’t have the time or inclination to deal with. Nor did my cooking timeline allow for defrosting 5 pounds of solid poultry. Whole Foods did have a few ducks, but they were all frozen.
Then my friend reminded me that we both have Labrador retrievers and shotguns. That suggestion didn’t fit my timeframe, either. By that time, I’d been to Sunflower Market, as well, which had frozen smoked duck breasts—for nearly $15 a pound.
I settled on chicken. Not what I wanted, but I cooked a whole leg with bacon for extra fat and flavor. My dining companion, complimentary as always, didn’t seem to care.
With chicken, you get to pick your parts. They come out of meat-packing operations on a foam tray wrapped in plastic and portioned out for your consumer choosing. It’s easy, convenient and industrial.
I’ve since looked harder for duck. Southeast Market (422 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5474, SoutheastMarket.com) has frozen birds for about $3 a pound. Whole Foods (multiple locations, WholeFoodsMarket.com) and Sunflower Market (multiple locations, SFMarkets.com) both have a small selection of packaged frozen duck products with varying degrees of pre-cooked-ness and included flavor packets, all in the $10-a-pound range. A social-media post led me to call Snider Bros. Meats (6245 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-272-6469, SnidersBrosMeats.com). They have frozen whole birds, too, but nothing fresh.
Apparently, it was a fool’s errand from the beginning. This is capitalism, after all, and it doesn’t seem like the marketplace is ready for piles of freshly butchered and packaged duck legs for my immediate risotto-cooking needs. Which, in the long run, is probably best for the ducks.