Duck à la presse, or simply “pressed duck,” showed up frequently on fancy menus in the 1960s, but it’s unusual to see it on menus today. For one thing, it requires somewhat elaborate equipment: namely, a duck press. “The ones I remember were all silverplate and elaborately chased,” says Caroline1. “I kept asking myself, ‘Who has room for one of those in their kitchen?’ A little voice would answer, ‘Anyone who can afford a private chef to use it and a butler to polish it, idiot!’ And the little voice was right.”
It is delicious, though. “Basically, pressed duck is roasted duck with a blood gravy sauce,” says Caroline1. “Blood was a very common (and deliciously nutritious) thickener in sauces a couple of hundred years ago when most people still did their slaughtering at home.” If you don’t raise your own ducks and slaughter them yourself (enabling you to gather some fresh blood for the gravy), a duck press is the way to get at the blood remaining in a pre-slaughtered duck in order to make blood gravy. It’s a huge pain, though, and not really worth the trouble, says Caroline1. “If I’m ever hit with a wild compulsion to have pressed duck again, I will look for a restaurant that deals with the mess,” she says.