Anthony Bourdainonce called duck presses the “most medieval of all kitchen tools,” before buying one himself. What might look like an ornate yet torturous contraption is actually the only way of extracting all the flavour from a duck, and a thing of beauty in the right hands.
At À L'aise restaurant in Oslo, chef and co-owner Ulrik Jepsen is reviving the 19th-century French art of duck pressing on his French influenced fine-dining menu, where the labour of love has become one of his signature dishes.
In the clip below chef Jepsen offers an insider's look at the lengthy preparation that goes into this iconic duck dish using local ingredients at his Michelin-recommended restaurant - the only one in Norway to serve the dish.
Take a look at how 'canard à la presse' (pressed duck) is prepared at Oslo's À L’aise:
Firstly, the duck is dry aged for two days inside the fridge until the blood disappears, which ensures it's super crispy after cooking. Then, when the duck is ordered, the skin is scored, and the duck pan-fried before being cooked in the oven and rested for several moments before being placed on a bed of hay inside a cocotte to be presented to the diner.
In a moment of tableside theatre, the duck is carved and the breasts removed and transferred back to the kitchen for finishing in the pan. Meanwhile the duck carcass is loaded into an impressive free standing silver duck press to extract all the flavourful juices - a two-person job.
All that extracted deliciousness is then fired up in a copper pan with butter, shallots, Cognac, tonka beans, duck stock, fleur de sel and duck hearts until thickened to a shiny sauce and lovingly spooned over the finished sliced duck breast.
By this point your mouth will probably be watering. If you're lucky enough to have a duck press, find the recipe here and have a go yourself. If not, take a last longing look at what you could be enjoying.