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How to Debone a Duck

de-boned duck next to its bones

Follow this guide to debone a whole duck whether it’s for a turducken, or a boneless stuffed duck roast. Make sure you save the bones for stock. Simply roast them in a 400°F oven until dark golden, then gently simmer them for a few hours for a delicious duck broth!

    Materials

    • 1 whole duck
    • 1 boning knife
    • 1 cutting board

    Instructions

    1

    You’ll need a whole duck, a decent boning knife, and a cutting board for this project.

    If you don’t have a boning knife (get one) you can use a paring knife to work through joints or bone and a fish fillet knife for de-boning. 

    Start with the duck facing breast down, with the neck end facing you.

    2

    Start by cutting the wingtips off, as you cannot debone them.

    Wiggle the wingtip to ascertain where the joint is, then, holding the larger part of the wing, cut through the joint.

    Set the tips aside for stock. 

    3

    Find the spine by running your finger down the back. 

    Make an incision down the entire spine, from tail to neck. 

    4

    Make long shallow slices down the side of the spine and under the left side of the incision. 

    Use your fingers to peel back the flesh from the bone as you continue to make slices along the ribs, being careful not to slice through the actual meat and skin. 

    5

    Near the shoulder, you’ll find a flat bone poking out on its own. Cut the meat off either side of it so it is standing free. 

    6

    It’s time to debone the left wing. 

    Pull out the wing and feel for the “drumette” section’s bone with your fingers.

    Make an incision from the shoulder to the “flat” section of the wing. The incision should connect perpendicularly with the cut you made along the spine. 

    Poke your knife underneath the drumette bone and separate the flesh from the bone. 

    7

    Make another similar incision from the tip of the wing to your last cut on the drumette

    Poke your knife into the incision and separate the flesh from the two little bones. Put the knife in the flat of the wing, so the top flat of the blade is resting under the bones, and the bottom flat of the blade is touching the flesh. Point the edge towards the wing tip. Now, being careful of your fingers, push the knife towards the wingtip, until it bursts through. This should fully separate the bone from the meat. Make any necessary incisions to complete it. 

    ***See step 14 for more pictures. 

    8

    Grasp the wing bone and pull up to expose the meat underneath it. 

    Continue making incisions to free the bones while you pull the wing bones up and to the right, until you reach the keel or breast bone (which is the large ridge of bone between the two breasts).

    9

    Move back towards the thighs

    Use your fingers to locate the thigh bone, then make an incision all the way down it to the drumstick

    Make another incision down the drumstick bone to the ankle joint, or end of the drumstick. 

    Dig your fingers in to grasp the thigh bone, separating it from the meat. This can mostly be done by force, but feel free to use the knife instead. 

    10

    Much like the wing, pass the knife under the leg bone so the top flat of the knife is touching bone and the bottom is touching meat, while the edge is facing the end of the leg. 

    Now push the blade out so it bursts through the connective tissue at the end of the leg/ankle. Trim off any cartilage that sticks to the meat. 

    Still grasping the leg bone, pull upwards and to the right, while making slices under the thigh to free the meat from the bones. Stop when you get to the middle of the bird. 

    11

    Repeat on the other leg and thigh.

    12

    Move back to the front of the bird and feel for the wishbone in between the two wings. 

    Run your knife along the front and back of the wishbone while pulling up on the ribcage to free it from any meat, then cut the wishbone at the base of the “V” to remove it completely. 

    13

    Repeat steps 8 and 9 to debone the other wing.

    Grasp the wing bones and make any necessary cuts to completely free it.

    14

    Make incisions from where the wing was to where the thigh was, rolling the ribcage to the until you reach the middle of the bird. 

    You want to feel the entire bone structure separating itself from the meat here. 

    15

    Pull the entire bone structure upwards and back, running the knife repeatedly across the keel or breast bone, so that the meat stays on the cutting board and the bones get peeled off. 

    Continue until you get to the very end, making any necessary incisions to fully remove the bone structure from the meat. 

    16

    Feel along where the keel bone was located in between the two breasts to check if any cartilage was left behind. If so, pinch it upwards and trim it with the knife. 

    17

    de-boned duck next to its bones

    Use your fingertips to feel around for any bones or cartilage you may have missed in the meat. 

    Gently flip the meat over and rearrange it until it resembles a duck again. 

    You’ve done it, you’ve deboned a duck!

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