Thursday, January 10, 2008

Duck a l'Orange

When we got the chickens last Sunday, we also picked up a Bell & Evans duck on a whim. We've never roasted a whole duck before.

It turns out that Jacques Pepin's Complete Techinques isn't so complete. As in there are no recipes on duck that I could find. Mabel reasoned that maybe Pepin regarded chicken as the Homo erectus of all poultry, the model on which to base all other poultry techniques. I don't know. I wanted a duck-specific recipe.

I turned to Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. It's a really attractive book and fun to read, though I haven't tried many of the recipes yet. Last Tuesday, I settled on making Duck à l'Orange.

It turned out really well. A memorable experience.

I wish I could say the same for the potatoes and bok choy. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

I got "creamy" potatoes at Balducci's. They looked like normal waxy potatoes, but they were weird potatoes, a strange third category potato that I never knew existed. Anyway, my usual roasting method left them with a crusty chewy outside and a strangely hollow inside. They were like those foam rocks they use in the movies, except potatoes.

I usually braise bok choy with chicken stock and then let the chicken stock evaporate. But I had sugar in this chicken stock because I messed up the duck sauce on the first try and thought I'd recycle it to cook the bok choy. Well, instead of reducing nicely it just burned.

But back to the duck. It's difficult to describe coherently because after the meal we were in a stupor. The best I can do here is some free association:

Me: It was filling, but not in my stomach, in my head. It was like the duck was drugged. It was like a ripe fruit in meat form.

Mabel: It's like a constant belly massage. It felt like I was moving through mud. Duck is a magical creature.

We ended up eating the whole thing which apparently is not unusual. A 4 pound duck has less meat on it than you'd think.

It was so satisfying, we didn't care what was on TV later. Clinton, Obama. After eating roast duck it's all the same. It's dangerous. This is ambition-sapping food.


AshleyAnne said...

I made this duck recipe for my birthday dinner and it was incredible. I'm glad you posted the picture so I could re-live the experience!

David said...

Hey AshleyAnne, I'm glad you're a fellow duck lover! Thanks for the comment. It just made me re-live the experience as well.