Cookbook gives tips, techniques for cooking duck, geese

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19 2013 5:25 p.m. MST

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated,” by Hank Shaw, Ten Speed Press, $24.99, 234 pages

While turkey may be taking center stage at a major holiday next week, Hank Shaw points out that there are other fowl that may make an equally delicious main course in his cookbook “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

The first 20 pages are a simple yet detailed overview of different ducks and geese, how to break one down, whether bought at a store or market or brought in by a hunter (including plucking), and what to watch out for in each type of meat.

“Duck, Duck, Goose” is wisely organized by cooking the whole bird, including roasting and grilling recipes, a second section called “Pieces” with more than 40 recipes and then a section called “Extras” that has recipes involving duck eggs, duck liver or tongues and a recipe for Duck Jerky.

Shaw has made this cookbook for both beginners and advanced chefs, and those in between, as each recipe includes a starred difficulty level with one star being the easiest and can be done in a weeknight, to five stars, which may require significant time, attention or special equipment. He also includes cooking time and preparation time estimates.

There are recipes with flavors and names from Europe, Central America and Asia, along with flavors from throughout the U.S. Using a conversational writing style, he includes some background with each recipe, where it originated and his version of it.

Throughout the cookbook, there are color photos of the end results of many of the recipes and green boxes with tips and additional cooking information, whether on carving a roasted duck or goose, how many servings each may be and a recipe from 1799 from Martha Washington.

For those interested in cooking ducks or geese or who have a loved one who is a waterfowl hunter, this is a resource that would be informational and helpful for beginners or more advanced cooks.

If you go …

What: Hank Shaw book signing

When: Thursday, Nov. 21

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, honest-food.net

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Duck Breast with Black Currant Sauce

Difficulty: **

Serves: 4

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

A venerable dish in both France and England, this preparation is almost as old as duck bigarade. Like that recipe and various others in this book, it is proof of the fundamental alliance between waterfowl and fruit. Black currants are a little musky, very tart and not overly sweet. Cassis, if you’ve never heard of it, is black currant liqueur. You need at least one of these to do this recipe justice. I not only use black currant preserves and cassis, but also I will on occasion toss in a handful of fresh black currants at the end of the cooking just for good measure.

However, black currants can be difficult to find in any form, so you can hinge the dish on blackberries instead, using blackberry schnapps and blackberry preserves.

My rendition of this recipe is decidedly English, with a simple watercress salad and potato crisps. The watercress salad is super simple: buy some watercress and dress it however you like; I recommend the Duck Fat Vinaigrette (recipe follows).

1½ to 2 pounds duck breasts

Kosher salt

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

Potato Crisps

2 russet potatoes

⅔ cup duck fat or oil (such as peanut or olive)

Kosher salt

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, Duck, Goose," by Hank Shaw

Duck Fat Vinaigrette

Difficulty: *

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.

— "Duck, Duck, Goose," by Hank Shaw

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