Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mighty Duck

My uncle, who lives in upstate New York, raised some ducks and recently had them slaughtered.  He gave some frozen ones to my parents, who gave one to me.  Dan and I love duck, and I've cooked a breast or two before, but I'd never tackled the whole beast.  I went to the Test Kitchen book, and was surprised to find no mention whatsoever of duck. So, I took to the internet and found an Alton Brown recipe called Mighty Duck.  So here we go:

The whole bird, defrosted and coming out of its wrapping:

Backbone removed, split down the breast, quartered and put in the fridge to brine (pineapple-orange juice, lots of kosher salt, peppercorns, garlic, thyme).

Quarters getting ready to steam for 45 minutes:

After steaming, they were moved to a pre-heated cast iron skillet in a very hot oven (legs first, then breasts 10 minutes later).  They made a very satisfying sizzle when placed in the skillet.  Here they are done:

Evacuate the duck to a plate, then toss shredded chard and minced shallots in the hot duck fat with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Plated, with couscous and dried cherries:

Verdict: Sadly, way over cooked.  I followed the recipe exactly so I think it is a flaw in the timing there.  But, it was still mighty tasty, especially with the crispy skin.  If the breast were cooked to a more proper medium this could have been fantastic.  I think my favorite part was actually the chard wilted in the fat.  Mmmm.

After we ate, we moved to the bonus round: saving the precious liquid in the bottom of the steamer pot.  After three batches through the fat separator, I have about a half gallon of duck stock and a few cups of duck fat.  Coming soon: some kind of soup, and duck fat hash browns!

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