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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Duck Casserole

This recipe is for duck and while it is meant to be served not thoroughly cooked this is up to you taste and you may want to bake it more than it ask for. I know we did.

Around the world duck is used quite often , here in the U.S. it is not found on tables as much as it once was. Duck meat is unique as well as rich and dark. We have been taught to always cook well done. This casserole as I shared calls for the meat to be not done as much. Peking duck is cooked to well done and still tender and succulent so I would dare to reckon that if this was done well done as well it should work as well.

Duck meat in very lean in nature but vary in fat content under their skin and the taste of meat. There are three types of ducks Peking, Muscovy and Moulard. The Moulard is a cross between pekin and Muscovy and is sterile and prized for its wonderful taste  It has the most fat in it so its ideal for rendering duck fat, plus vaunted to be the best tasting of all three. Less fat than others but a bit tougher.

Peking duck is great in stew as well. It is also great with a cherry sauce. This recipe comes from Paula Wonfert's book "The Cooking of Southern France"

            2 boneless duck breast halves  1 to 1 ¼ pound each
            salt and freshly ground pepper
            2 tbs rendered duck fat
            1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
            2 ounces finely diced ventreche or pancetta
            2 lbs. red potatoes
            ½ tsp. finely chopped fresh garlic
            1 tbs chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Score skin of each duck breast in crosshatch lines without piercing the flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Place breast halves skin side down, in a 3 to 4 quart flameproof casserole set over moderately high heat. Brown skin to a beautiful caramel in about 4 minutes while continually removing the fat by tilting the casserole and spooning off the fat. Turn the duck breast over and quickly sear the other side. Transfer to a plate line with paper towels, tent with foil, and let meat rest for about 30 minutes. Discard the fat and wipe out the casserole.
While the duck is resting, heat the rendered duck fat in the casserole over moderately low heat. Add the onion and ventreche, cover, cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are silky and the ventreche is crisp.
Meanwhile, slice the potatoes ¼ inch thick and pat each slice dry with paper towels. Raise the heat under the casserole to high, add the potatoes, and turn them in the fat for 2 minutes making sure all are coated before pressing down to form a disk. Continue to cook until some of the slices begin to brown. Again press the potatoes with a spatula to form a flat round cake. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Lift the cover and wipe away any moisture on the inside of the lid. Add the bay leaf and toss the potatoes gently so that the crisp bottom pieces mix with the rest of the potatoes and onions; cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Gently press down with spatula to reshape. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover and cook for 5 minutes more, shaking the casserole to keep the potatoes from sticking. Uncover, toss with the garlic and parsley, reshape by pressing down, and cook a few minutes more.
Carve the duck breasts into ¼ inch thick slices. The meat should be very rare. Spread the slices over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole tightly, raise heat to high and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the bottom of potato cake and finish cooking the duck. Bring the covered casserole to the table and serve hot.

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