Is It Safe to Eat Duck Medium Rare? (Taste & Health Risks)

Duck is an excellent choice of meat for a simple dinner party, as you can use various parts of the bird for the feast. Duck breast, legs, or crispy duck skin, your options are just plenty!

It is a tricky meat to cook, which is easy to cook and can be served very quickly, in a short period of time.

Try to cook the duck meat a minute too late and it becomes rubbery, while a minute too early can make it rare or even undercooked. A duck “well-done” might be just rubbery when it cools down.

Nobody wants to eat a “well-done” duck breast. They would rather eat some store bought chicken.

Then why is there such a divided opinion about eating duck medium-rare? Why is enjoying some succulent pink and juicy duck breast a concern? Well, health and safety reasons prevail over taste for many.

You can eat your duck medium-rare, but it comes with a bit of risk, just like other poultry meats. Duck is perfectly safe for consumption when it cooks between 160°F and 170°F. However, this will make your duck medium-well done.

Cooking your duck to 155°F and letting it rest will slowly increase the temperature to 160°F.

Now, your duck will be pink, juicy, moist, and medium-rare! It is slightly risky to eat it this way, but some prefer the risk over a rubbery duck breast!

What Is Medium Rare In Meat Cooking?

Medium rare is a way of cooking red meats. The outer skin is brown and sometimes crispy.

When you cut into the meat, it is pink and juicy on the inside. So when you touch a medium-rare piece of duck or any meat, it will be firm to touch on the outside and moist on the inside.

If you cook it a little more, it will be a medium, well-done piece of meat.

If you are searing the duck breast, it should take just about two to three minutes on each side of the pan for the duck to cook to medium-rare consistency.

Duck medium rare

Cooking the scored duck meat for more than 4 minutes on each side can result in medium to medium well-done. The more time you cook the meat, the closer to well-cooked it gets.

How Does Duck Taste The Best?

Duck, just like chicken or quail, can cook very quickly if you don’t pay enough attention.

The main difference between duck and other poultry birds is that it is red meat and so tends to cook like red meat.

When you score and cook a duck medium rare at 155°F, the meat tends to cook just to the right texture.

It will still be pink and moist on the inside. The juicy meat can be perfect for a celebratory dinner.

You can also cook the duck well at 160°F to 165°F. When you stop cooking and let it rest, the temperature will continue to rise to 170°F.

This piece of duck will be well done, luscious with crunchy skin. So, the duck can taste good whichever way you cook it.

If you are not too sure about how to cook the duck, here is a temperature chart for your guidance:

Part Of The DuckDuck BreastDuck LegsFull Duck (Unstuffed)Full Duck (Stuffed)
CookingMedium-RareWell DoneWell DoneWell DoneWell Done
Internal Temperature54°C – 57°C74°C74°C74°C74°C (it will take more time if cooked with the stuffing)
Roast8 Min12 Min1Hr 15Min to 1Hr 30 Min30 to 35 Min per Pound40 to 60 Min per Pound
GrillSkin side – 6 Min Meat side – 7 to 8 Min30 MinNot Advisable To Grill A Full Duck

Cooking the whole duck can be tricky and requires some experience and expertise, especially if you want the breasts to be medium rare and the legs to be well done.

If you cook the duck with the stuffing inside, it will take more time. So, plan accordingly.

Rendering Duck Fat

Duck has a lot of fat, and rendering it well can improve the taste of your duck meat. Core your duck meat gently by just sliding a sharp knife on the surface.

Let the meat cook slowly over low flame, which will give enough time for enough fat to render out and make the piece juicy and moist.

If you want to render more fat, make deeper cuts and cook it on low flame. However, if you cook it on a very low flame, not only will it take too much time, but the meat will overcook before sufficient fat renders out.

The trick is to maintain the temperature. Always cook your duck in low to medium-low heat for the perfect duck breast or leg.

When And Where Can You Eat Duck Medium Rare?

You can eat medium rare if you are ready to take a small risk. According to the British food safety standards, duck, being poultry meat, can carry bacteria if not cooked properly.

The American food safety system does not issue any such warning and approves the pink in duck meat as safe enough to eat.

Why Does The British Food Safety System Not Approve Duck Medium-Rare?

According to the British Food Safety department, you should cook poultry meat until it is steaming hot throughout.

There should be no pink in between, and the juice has to run clear. Otherwise, there are chances of bacteria, resulting in food poisoning and other complications.

Ducks and other poultry birds can carry salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in their intestines.

These bacteria can still exist when you don’t cook duck thoroughly and cause food poisoning upon ingestion.

According to WHO, campylobacter is one of the 4 key causes of diarrheal disease among humans.

For some people, it can be mild and subside on its own. These bacteria can quickly turn fatal for some people, mainly young children.

In the case of adults, if left untreated for more than 10 days, it can lead to a gall bladder infection or gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome is also a possibility but very rare.

In order to avoid this food-borne illness, the British Food safety department recommends cooking duck well instead of eating it medium-rare.

Can You Eat Duck Medium Rare When Pregnant?

Pregnancy is a tricky time. The food you usually enjoy may seem unpalatable during pregnancy.

Duck Medium rare with rice

You can develop allergies and severe reactions to meat when you don’t cook it properly. Even the slightest chance of contamination is big enough a risk for a pregnant woman.

It is not advisable to eat rare or medium-rare meat during pregnancy. It is safer to eat well-done or well-cooked meat as the heat will kill all the bacteria.

Eating duck, in fact, has many health benefits for pregnant women.

If you are not too sure, you can always opt for other lean meats, chicken or pork. If you can avoid meat, you can always opt for legumes, nuts, and colored vegetables to satisfy your nutrition and taste needs.

Effects Of Eating Undercooked Duck

Eating raw or undercooked duck can result in food poisoning due to Salmonella or Campylobacter bacteria.

These bacteria can cause severe abdominal pain, mild to high fever, or even diarrhea.

According to the CDC, Campylobacter results in 1.3 million cases of food poisoning annually. According to Public Health England, 50% of the ducks in 2015 had Campylobacter.

Eating your duck under-cooked can lead to food poisoning and can even become very serious very quickly.

Can You Serve Duck Breast Medium Rare?

Many people prefer their duck breast or duck meat medium-rare. When the duck is pink in the middle, it consists of juicy moist meat with textures that can please the palate.

No one likes a rubbery duck, and that is what it can become if left unattended, even for a few minutes.

Cooking duck well can remove the risks of food poisoning but may not be a crowd-pleaser.

So, unless you have laws or regulations against serving rare or medium-rare duck meat, you can continue to serve this crowd-pleaser.

Can You Serve Duck Leg Medium Rare?

Ducks use their legs more, so this part of the meat requires more cooking.

You cannot serve duck legs rare or medium-rare as you need to cook them more to tenderize the meat. Only then can a person chew and eat it.

Why Can You Eat Duck Medium Rare And Not Chicken?

Chicken contain salmonella and other bacteria in their intestines. Cooking them fully and properly will kill all these bacteria and make them safe for eating.

Chicken is also white on the inside, unlike duck which looks like red meat on the inside. So, you cannot have pinkish chicken meat. It will be only white in color.

How Pink Is Too Pink In Duck Meat?

Duck when “rare” or “medium rare” tastes the best. Many people like their duck breasts this way.

However, according to food safety standards, this is “too pink” to eat as it can contain bacteria and result in food poisoning.

The meat should not bleed. The juice has to run clear when you press down on the meat.

Alternatively, you can check the thickest part of the duck with a thermometer. If it reads 75° on the meat thermometer, your duck is cooked correctly.

Can You Get Sick By Eating Pink Duck Breast?

If the duck has Campylobacter bacteria, you might get the infection too. The bacteria live in the skin and breast of the duck.

So eating duck breast pink carries a certain amount of risk.

Final Thoughts

Duck tastes best when served rare or medium-rare, according to meat lovers. Duck is more succulent meat with texture when you compare it to chicken.

Though “white” meat, it looks and cooks almost like red meat. Different food safety standards have different opinions about the extent of cooking a duck. So, you can eat a medium rare duck but with caution.

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