While having an on-air discussion about the recent discovery of a vintage menu from Freetown’s Assonet Inn, callers into the program brought up something I’d never heard of, but was apparently very popular back in the day: Yorkshire duck.
Something told me right away that the dish probably didn’t contain any duck. I was right, but we’ll get to that later.
From what the callers were telling me, it was a loaf or a ball of “meat” that came wrapped up in some kind of “skin.” You’d slice up the loaf and fry the individual slices in oil and top it with gravy for an easy and cheap meal.
The callers told me that Davidson’s Meats were the only local company that made Yorkshire duck, and it was carried in places like Giammalvo’s Market and Shaw’s Supermarket. However, when Davidson’s went out of business a while back, so too went the Yorkshire duck.
I did a little research online, and it turns out that what the callers are referring to is an English dish known as “Yorkshire savory duck.” In some parts of England, it’s also called a name that here in the United States is considered a slur against gay people, so we won’t use that terminology for it.
As I suspected, Yorkshire duck has nothing to do with ducks or duck meat; it’s made from pork off-cuts (the leftovers when a butcher is butchering cuts of pork) and pork offal (the entrails and internal organs). It is all ground up into balls or loaves of meat, along with some breadcrumbs, and then held in place for cooking with caul fat, which is the web-like membrane that encompasses the pig’s internal organs.
I wonder how many SouthCoast kids knew that’s what they were eating back in those days?
This led me to wonder if Yorkshire duck was still available anywhere locally. My first thought was that if anyone would have it, it would be The Butcher Shop on Dartmouth Street in New Bedford. Joe Pinaretta and his family pride themselves in having the cuts of meat that the people of the city want on their plates.
I stopped in The Butcher Shop this afternoon to grab some lunch and inquire about the Yorkshire duck. Neither Joe nor his son Eric were familiar with it, but Eric told me to come back next week. He said he would watch some YouTube videos and figure out how to prepare it.
So if you’ve been missing the taste of Yorkshire duck, fear not – you soon could be biting into that ball of pork pluck soon enough.
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