I love duck. To me a duck is a bit like a pig with wings; the meat is incredibly versatile, delicious beyond belief, and every single morsel is usable. In Anthony Bourdain's most recent book, Medium Raw, he talks about how chefs love to play the "Last Meal Game". My last meal would be crisply-fried duck confit with a side of pommes sarladaises (duck fat-fried potatoes tossed with chopped garlic and fresh parsley).
It's very simple to make duck confit with duck leg and thigh portions and purchased duck fat but it's so much cheaper to buy whole ducks and cut them up yourself. The bonus is a freezer-full of the bonus ducky delights that you get from the extra parts: smoked duck breasts, duck liver pate, barbecued wings and necks, gallons of stock, duck fat for cooking, and crackling for munching.
Once or twice a year I buy four ducks and go into a two-day duck-cooking frenzy. This year my friends David and Steve offered to help out. We bought six ducks and set aside a weekend in January for our duck fest.
If you've never cut up a duck before it can seem like a daunting task but there are videos on the Internet giving simple step-by-step instructions. The most difficult part of this process is having the confidence to make the first cut. You can't really screw up - a few wonky cuts won't prevent your duck from being the best thing you've ever eaten.
Strain the fat into a clean container and place the duck cracklings onto paper towel to drain. Salt them while they are still warm. Eat the cracklings as a snack or sprinkle them on salads in place of croutons.