Tag Archive for duck

A Smoked Duck Breast & Blackberry Salad

smoked duck & blackberrry salad

Blackberry time is here. The canes in the garden have started to produce, and should all go well, continue to produce for another 4 weeks. Which is good, because blackberries (and eggplants) are one of the consolations of a typical Virginia summer, especially the kinds we’ve been seeing the last few years: hot, hotter, no rain, and yet muggy. Ouch.

But at least we have blackberries. That means blackberry sorbet, blackberry sourcream sherbet, creme de blackberry, blackberry shrub. But not blackberry gastrique nor blackberry jam, of which we still have plenty. We eat them. We freeze them. Me make juice. We sell them. It’s blackberry time, I tell you.

It’s also hot. So, preparations with minimum applications of heat are ideal. And blackberries, with their sweet-tart flavor, lend themselves well to savory dishes.

Recently, I prepared a smoked duck salad as an appetizer for a 32-guest lunch  (inspired by this recipe from the James Beard Foundation). I simplified the James Beard Foundation recipe by using smoked duck breasts prepared by The Whole Ox Butcher Shop in Marshall, VA (which sliced paper-thin with their meat slicer); changed the sauce a little bit… and reduced the plate to appetizer size.

An easy dish and attractive that’s great for a crowd, as all the components can be prepared ahead and assembled up to 30 minutes before serving (because we are using robust greens that can stand to the sauce).

So there, Smoked Duck Breast & Blackberry Salad – Appetizer for 12 Read more

A Duck Roast With Currant Jelly Sauce

Roasted Duck, Photo by Molly Peterson

 

Let’s get it out of the way right now: duck is fatty, and duck is delicious, a rich dark meat that is quite distinctive and … – surprise! – does not taste like chicken. I sometime roast a duck mainly to collect its fat – because (as everyone knows) duck-fat fried potatoes are a treat. So if you are afraid of fat, skip the duck!

Duck is poultry, but a duck’s skeleton and body are very different from a chicken. A 5-lb duck yields a lot less meat than a 5-lb chicken — don’t forget that pound of lovely fat — mostly in breast and leg meat. Everything else is “gnaw off the bone” meat (wings, neck and back – and innards, of course!), stuff that not everyone cares to eat. At least not at a fancy dinner as fingers are required. Go figure.  So… anything smaller than 5 lb is not really worth roasting.

Ducks are — I am told — somewhat harder to raise than chicken. Mostly the processing (getting the feathers off) are a lot trickier and slower. So, it’s not that easy to get local ducks in the mid-Atlantic area. The closest duck farm I know is  Free Union Grass Farm in Free Union, VA, more than  60 miles away (which is further than I want to drive on a casual basis).

So duck is a treat here.

A rich meat, it marries well with bitter or sour: cherries in the spring, turnips and ginger in the fall, oranges & olives in winter, or like the recie here, make a tart sauce with current jelly. Or you could use tart cherry jam or jelly, or a seedless blackberry jam. Read more

He Likes Duck Fat

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Potatoes fried in duck fat, with garlic & parsley, a very fresh green salad (with not a leaf of lettuce in sight) topped with a little bit of duck breast – a perfect lunch for this blessedly rainy Sunday.

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Obviously, he thought so too (and had an intense lemon tart with coffee for dessert).

This meal is characteristic of improvised cooking; you know, cooking without a recipe based on what you’ve got. We had a breast of duck left from a roast and duck fat just rendered from that same roast, and potatoes, of course. That calls for potatoes in duck fat, reminiscent of Pommes de Terre à la Sarladaise, a dish named after the town of Sarlat in Southwest France. While one variations on this homey dish includes truffles, the poor woman’s version (mine) makes do with garlic. Don’t knock it off until you’ve tried it: duck fat makes the best fried potatoes. As far as the green salad, it was a mix of mache, sorrel, baby red Russian kale & Tuscan kale, and frisée endive, fresh from the garden. Any good-quality store bought mesclun will do; make sure it’s on the robust side so it can take the hot dressing, and with a hint of bitterness or tartness to stand up to the richness of the potatoes.

End of Winter Salad with Duck Breast & Potatoes in Duck Fat Read more