Ah, glorious duck. The beloved poultry product often calls to mind images of Chinatown storefronts, extravagant holiday feasts, and now—thanks to the recent demand for pork alternatives—charcuterie boards. “We’ve seen a huge surge in popularity,” says Walshe Birney, buying manager and resident meat expert at Murray’s Cheese in New York City. “That’s one of the biggest growth areas in charcuterie right now.”
So, it’s high time to make room for duck on your own cheese plate (if you haven’t already). Just like traditional prosciutto, salami, and bacon, their duck counterparts boast the saltysweet- fatty combination that pairs so wonderfully with the right slice of cheese. But because duck has a milder sweetness and creamier fat than pork—not to mention a gamy flavor—it requires its own cheese pairing repertoire. Ahead, duck-friendly cheese picks to help you avoid a party fowl—ahem—foul.
Smoked duck breast is easy to find at most specialty food markets, which is good news because it’s totally delicious. The smoking process helps smooth out the meat’s gamy flavor, leaving a creamy, fragrant bite that can stand up against a bolder cheese. When pairing cheese with smoked duck, Birney opts for a washed rind, such as Murray’s Greensward or Jasper Hill Farm Winnimere. “Those have a little bit of smokiness already,” he says, “And the vegetal notes that you get in there really complement the meat well.”
Or you could take the sweet route. Here, Birney recommends a milder Gorgonzola, such as dolce or cremificato. Delightfully smoky duck bacon also pairs wonderfully with sweet, creamy cheeses.
Murray’s Cheese and Cellars at Jasper Hill Greensward
D’Artagnan Smoked Magret Duck Breast
Jasper Hill Farm Winnimere
Les Trois Petits Cochons Smoked Duck Breast
Gorgonzola Dolce DOP
Maple Leaf Farms Duck Bacon
Shake up the tired charcuterie spread with pork alternatives like duck prosciutto and salami. Duck meat tends to be dry compared to traditional prosciutto, but thankfully, it’s capped with a luscious layer of melting fat. “I would go with sharper sheep’s milk cheeses like Roncal, manchego, or aged pecorinos,” Birney recommends. Save the blues for the smoked duck; here they could add an unwanted bitterness to your pairing.
Fabrique Délices Duck Prosciutto
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Duck Salami
This article originally appeared in our 2015 Cheese+ ultimate Pairings issue. If you’d like to see all 26 amazing cheese pairings, purchase a copy today!