Cailar & Bayard Duck Press
Cailar, Bayard & Co.
Frédéric Delair, then chef/owner of French restaurant La Tour d'Argent, developed a dish in 1890 named Canard à la Presse, which translated to Pressed Duck. It was the epitome of fine French cuisine at the time. Preparation of this dish was laborious, complicated and required a special, aptly named appliance, la presse à canard, the duck press.
Though new duck presses are still made today, as are older more ornate presses, some plated in gold, the one on this page is my favorite. It was produced by Cailar, Bayard & Co., a Parisian silversmith, sometime at the turn of the 20th century. The press's most striking feature was the pair of footed elephant heads which doubled as the legs of the press. Coupled with the silver plate of the entire piece, the elephants add a sense of regalia. Both front and back plates swing open for easy access to the reservoir inside. A T-handle screw-shaft had the actual press on one end which fit snugly within the top of the reservoir. The pressed liquid exited through a spout near the base.
For the preparation of Pressed Duck, "First, a duck (preferably young and plump and from Rouen) is asphyxiated to retain the blood. The duck is then partially roasted. Its liver is ground and seasoned, then the legs and breast are removed. The remaining carcass (including other meat, bones, and skin) is then put in a specially-designed press, similar to a wine press. Pressure is then applied to extract duck blood and other juices from the carcass. The extract is thickened and flavoured with the duck's liver, butter, and cognac, and then combined with the breast to finish cooking.