Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fowl Play

I tell you, The Renaissance Man is one lucky duck.

He welcomed his birthday last week, and I had plans to make a special birthday dinner for him on Sunday, but we had to bump it to last night due to circumstances. This year, I didn't plan on making a lavish ethnic meal (like the Persian dinner of two years ago or the Indian meal that substituted for a birthday dinner last year).

No, this year, the challenge came from another direction. This year's dinner featured duck.

Yes, you read that right. Vegetarian me roasted a duck. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

It was bound to happen. Late last fall, the Renaissance Man had the opportunity to buy a small, locally-raised duck from a friendly farmer, and since he had not eaten duck before, he decided to splurge. It went directly into the freezer, and all winter long I've been contemplating recipes and techniques, both eager and cautious of trying something new.

Eventually, we decided it would make a good "welcome spring/happy birthday" meal, so I settled on a recipe for roast duck with a garlic-wine sauce, with local vegetables on the side, fresh biscuits (which he loves), and a luscious apple streusel cake (with ice cream) for dessert.

I worked on the farm yesterday and got back later than expected (since the OEFFA Male decided to fix the back end of my truck for me, what a guy!), but I gathered up ingredients and recipes and headed over to the RM's place to get started while he was out on errands.

That meant that I had the thrill and joy of working with a raw duck all to myself. (And I am being thoroughly sarcastic here.) I labored to saw off the wing tips and the neck, eventually using a firm grip and a brutal twist to get those parts off and into the stock pan, and then I had to reach into the body cavity to scrape out excess fat and other fun stuff. I really don't fancy doing that again in a hurry. (And I'm grateful not to have a photo of that.)

But after that, I set the stock to simmering on the stove and turned back to prepare the bird for roasting, slathering it with the soy-mustard-garlic mixture and sprinkling the spices on top. While both stock/sauce and bird progressed as per the recipe, I managed to make the side dish, mix up the biscuit dough, and prep the salad -- as well as sit back with the Renaissance Man for a few minutes and enjoy a first glass of wine.

The duck turned out beautifully: fragrant, crispy on the outside, rich and meaty (if a tad dry) on the inside. And everything else ended up according to plan.

The Renaissance Man felt that such a special dinner deserved a fancy table setting, so he pulled out a table cloth and a candle and dressed everything up nicely while I put the finishing touches on the meal:

--roast duck with wine-garlic sauce (sauce in the foreground, duck in the center)
--salad of fresh mixed greens (from The Winter Harvesters) with mustard-wine vinaigrette that echoed the flavors in the duck's outer layer
--maple-glazed parsnips (parsnips from my garden, maple syrup from the market)
--whole wheat biscuits
--red wine from a local winery

We enjoyed a leisurely, savory, well-made dinner -- the longest we've sat at table enjoying our meal since Christmas (when his dad spent over half an hour telling stories). All the flavors harmonized well, the colors on the plate offered a beautiful palate, the textures all varied -- it really was a well-planned meal, one the Chef Mother would (and did!) approve.

And after all that... we never did eat any cake and ice cream. We were too full! (We'll save some for tonight, though, I'm sure.)

Now that we have all the meat off the carcass, we'll look at making soup stock in the next day or two and either freeze it or make some soup in the next week or so. I did pour the excess fat out of the pan and into a jar and tucked that in the freezer for future cooking experiments -- why waste good fat?

And I'm sure I'll be in a fowl mood for cooking again sometime...

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At 4/01/2010 10:48 AM, Blogger Jennifer Hugon said...

What a great endeavor! I am totally impressed!

At 4/01/2010 11:28 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It was a challenge, all right! But worth it in the end... :-)


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