Cookbook gives tips, techniques for cooking duck, geese
¼ cup minced shallot
⅓ cup cassis or port or black currant syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Basic Duck Stock or beef stock
¼ cup black currant preserves or jelly
2 russet potatoes
⅔ cup duck fat or oil (such as peanut or olive)
Remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator, salt well, and set aside at room temperature. Put a cooling rack on a baking sheet and put this baking sheet in the oven; this will be for your potato crisps. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
To prepare the potato crisps, have ready a large bowl of ice water. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the potatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and drop them into the ice water. In a wide sauté pan, heat the duck fat to 325°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, put one of the potato end slices into the fat; if it sizzles nicely, you are ready to fry.
Remove the potatoes from the ice water and dry on cloth or paper towels. Working in batches, fry the potatoes in the hot fat, salting them as they cook and turning them once or twice. Remove them when they are golden brown. Each batch will take 5 to 8 minutes. Be sure to let the oil drain off the crisps before you put them on the cooling rack in the oven, and always let the oil temperature return to 325°F before adding the next batch.
When the final batch of potatoes goes into the hot oil, pat the duck breasts dry and pan sear.
When the breasts are done, move them skin side up to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while you make the sauce. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan and place the pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté for about 90 seconds, until the edges brown a bit. Take the pan off the heat and add the cassis or syrup. Return the pan to the stove top, turn up the heat to high, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Let the cassis or syrup boil down for 1 minute, then mix in the vinegar, thyme, pepper, stock, and preserves. Boil the mixture hard until it thickens: drag the wooden spoon through the sauce, and if it leaves a noticeable trail, you’re ready. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. If you want a more refined sauce, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
To serve, make a watercress salad as suggested in the headnote and put some on each plate. Divide the potato crisps among the plates. Slice the duck breasts and divide evenly among the plates. To finish, drizzle some of the sauce over each portion of duck and serve at once.
Duck Fat Vinaigrette
Makes: about 1 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
I can — and have — made this salad dressing in my sleep. It is my go-to for the annual Duck Hunter’s Dinners we throw at our home; to get a seat at the table, you must be a duck hunter, or accompanied by one. At these dinners I unleash whatever crazy new duck recipes I’ve been working on during the season, and this dressing is the only constant: at some point in the multicourse meal, there will be a simple salad of bitter greens, dressed with this vinaigrette.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice or white wine vinegar
¾ cup duck fat, warmed
In a blender, combine the mustard, shallot, salt, sugar, and lemon juice, cover, and buzz on high speed to combine. Turn down the speed to low, remove the lid, and slowly pour in the duck fat. Re-cover, turn the speed to high, and blend for 30 seconds.
Use at once, or refrigerate for up to a week.
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