I've been wanting to make a duck for months, but never got around to it. It seemed too extravagant for just me. So, I invited Papa Smurf over for Christmas dinner. Yes, I'm Jewish, but he isn't and I had the day off. Might as well make a fancy meal.
Ducks are great for small gatherings. They look impressive, yet they're about the same size as a chicken. Once all the fat renders off, you actually get less meat from them than you would a chicken. 99 Ranch has them for less than the average chain market.
I'm basing this on the Bible's recipe, with a few changes because I didn't actually read the whole recipe before going grocery shopping. Bad Smurf. A lot of the time, I take entire cookbooks or recipe cards with me when I go, but the Bible's too heavy to tote through the aisles. I'm also simplifying some of the steps. This was the same day I was making the plantain latkes and apple tarts.
I always prefer to use fresh cherries when they're available, even though you have to pit them. This time, I ended up with frozen. The original recipe calls for canned, dark sweet cherries.
The original recipe also used a quartered duck. I decided that a whole one looked more impressive and left it intact. You do get more meat off of it quartered, since each person gets one big piece on their plate to work on. It's all dark meat, so it doesn't matter who gets the breast or leg. Plus, the darned thing was really difficult to carve. If you don't know how to quarter poultry, pre-order it and the butcher will do it for you. Depending on the market, they might not even charge extra.
Techie Smurf is a huge fan of saving duck fat for making confit later. There certainly is plenty of it. The fat can have other culinary uses, especially if you're not a fan of lard. You can use it for sautéing vegetables in any poultry dish, instead of using butter. I'm sure there are entire sites on the subject.
1 whole duckling, defrosted
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb cherries, either fresh, frozen, or canned - pitted!
1/2 C claret or sherry
2 Tb currant jelly (or any neutral flavor like apricot, lemon, or apple)
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 C water
1. Place duck, breast side up, on rack in stovetop-safe roasting pan. Prick skin all over with a fork so the fat has somewhere to go. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 325º for about 2 hours, until fork-tender and 165º in the deepest part of the thigh.
2. In small bowl, stir cherries with sherry and let macerate. Shortly before the duck is done, combine the water and cornstarch and set aside.
3. Remove duck to warm platter to rest, and start the sauce. Remove rack from roasting pan and pour off fat, leaving the drippings. Drain sherry from cherries. Place pan over medium heat and use sherry to deglaze drippings. Scrape all bits off bottom and pour the whole thing into a small saucepan. Place roasting pan in sink and start soaking it, or it's going to take a week to clean.
4. Place saucepan on the medium heat and add the jelly. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until smooth. Cook until slightly thickened. Add cherries. Heat, stirring, until cherries are hot and all ingredients are well blended. Serve duckling with hot cherry sauce.
Difficulty rating :-0
Difficulty rating :-0