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Pairing Duck and Cheese

manchego and duck appetizer skewers

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

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

Cured Duck

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.

Manchego PDO

Fabrique Délices Duck Prosciutto

Roncal PDO

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!

Michelle Debczak

Michele is an editorial intern at culture and a junior at Emerson College. She loves writing and reading as much as possible, especially when the subject matter deals with cheese! Her ideal day off consists of baking a chocolate cake in her PJ's while listening to Alton Brown's latest podcast.

Photographer Evi Abeler

Evi Abeler is a food and still life photographer based in New York City. She helps art directors, cookbook authors and designers to communicate the love, passion and thought that goes into every project and creates modern, yet classic images. Her clients in advertising, publishing, hospitality and retail include Food & Wine Magazine (which named her Digital Food Award Winner), Harper Collins Publishing and Whole Foods Markets.

Stylist Laura Knoop

Laura Knoop is a New York City-based food stylist with a studio in Harlem.