While I did explain that it would be thoughtful to give up something for Lent, just as sort of a snuggle with God, I pointed out that because we’re not Catholic we don’t have to give up anything. Especially when it comes to food. And that’s how we got to…
Duck for dinner. Around here, wild game is a part of the culture. (Not a part of MY culture, but a part of everyone else’s.) There are Wild Game Cook-Off’s around here that bring in people from all sorts of interesting places, and spawn rivalries and competitions that go on year after year. (My little brother nearly SHOT a competitor once when the opposing dish showed up…straight from a restaurant kitchen.) And somehow a couple of years ago, I got caught up in cooking duck on a grill and saucing it. And this is what we ended up with.
Duck with Blackberry Sauce
25 ounce can blackberries
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 cubes beef bouillon
1 cube chicken bouillon
1-3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sherry
Drain blackberries, reserving syrup. In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add wine, 1/3 cup blackberry syrup and vinegar. Add bouillion cubes and water and simmer until cubes are dissolved. Add drained blackberries and simmer for 25 minutes, crushing berries with the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in sherry.
To roast the duck:
Quarter a small onion, halve five or six cloves of garlic and cut up some kind of fruit…an apple is good. A pear is good. An orange works well. Rinse the duck, salt and pepper it inside and out and rub it with olive oil. Carefully prick the duck all over, piercing just the skin. (This lets the fat drain out and helps crisp the skin.) Stuff it with a couple of pieces of onion, garlic and fruit. Place on a rack on a roasting pan and cook at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Baste with juices and/or butter, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for approximately another 45 minutes. I never HAVE found the thigh muscle with a thermometer, so go for a moveable drumstick.
This is the oven method. If you have the patience and a really good temperature-controlled grill, use that. But keep the duck on the rack over the roasting pan. You need those juices.
To serve, let stand for five minutes. Cut into quarters and serve with sauce and pan juices.
Wednesday night we had this with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, with extra roasted garlic cloves to squeeze on French baquettes. And salads, with bacon, blue cheese and Newman's Own...MY FAVORITE. And hot gingerbread for dessert. This doing penance stuff is rough.