Two Ducks To Be Eaten, All But The Quack

johnliu_gwFebruary 9, 2013

I have two defrosted ducks that were to have been roasted for Chinese New Year dinner tonight, but we've postponed the dinner by a week due to SWMBO and my son both being sick.

Nothing serious, just the seasonal bugs that are going around, but not really conducive to a dinner party. Turns out the guests mostly have someone ill in their households too.

Anyhow, I have to cook these ducks now, as they can't very well carry over for a week more in the refrigerator. And I am scant on ideas and inspiration. But I know there'll be no shortage of either here!

What would you do with two whole ducks? Confit legs and thighs? Roast breasts?

Or maybe

Cobble together some gluten-free buns and make duck buns? http://noteatingoutinny.com/2009/06/25/dijon-duck-buns-with-pickled-cucumber-and-scallions/

I'm going to be searching the cookbooks and magazines later today, but any tasty options popping to mind?

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abundantblessings

Sorry that your loved ones are ill.

I like simple roasted duck stuffed with an onion and an apple, but confit, cassoulet, rare breasts are all wonderful. What time is dinner?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:18PM
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jadeite

You could break down the ducks and separate the legs and wings for confit, and pan sear the breasts. This is fairly labor intensive. You'll need fat for the duck confit. Purists will insist on duck fat, but I've used pork fat with good results.

Personally I would red cook both ducks which is very easy and a lot less messy than roasting. If you need a recipe I can post one, but it's just a matter of searing the ducks, adding spices (star anise, cinnamon, ginger), rock sugar and water, then cooking at a low simmer until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender. It's a typical New Year dish.

Once it's cooked, you can keep it for a few days so perhaps your family will be well enough to enjoy it with you.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:37PM
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dcarch7

DO NOT! DO NOT CUT THE DUCK!!!

For the Chinese New Year, the duck must be served whole, with the head and tail.

It is very bad form otherwise, supposed will bring very bad luck to the family.

You cut duck, you get bad luck.

dcarch

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:01PM
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johnliu_gw

These ducks aren't for CNY dinner, that's been postponed. These duck are just for family eatin'.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:44PM
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abundantblessings

Ok, john, but dcarch warned you. Chinese NY runs from today through the 12 (or 13th in Hong Kong). Welcome the year of the snake with roasted ducks which really do make fab eating. Don't understand the comment about messy as a pricked duck renders the fat beautifully and is exceptionally flavorful, at least to me -- but then I'm sort of a simple purist.

OTH, I hope dcarch checks back in and provides correct info about the pricks as I can see my luck seeping out. Plus, since I no longer live in a sophisticated city, the ducks I can get have already lost their heads and no longer stand on their own two feet.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:13PM
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jimster

OTH, one of the items on the CNY feast served by our Chinese friends was tea smoked duck. It was cut up. I don't know how it affected our luck the rest of the year -- maybe badly -- but we felt lucky to be eating it at the time.

John, I think this is an opportune time for making confit. Later, use the confit in cassoulet.

Jim

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:43PM
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johnliu_gw

I decided to break down the ducks, figuring that having my hands on the food would bring a dish to mind. It often works that way, you know.

So the legs are in a bowl waiting to be reunited with the fat that is rendering in a sauce pot, as confit. The family can snack on that when I'm off on another trip next week.

The carcass is in the pressure cooker becoming duck stock. I have this vague idea of a duck and mushroom soup, so will wander to the store and see what the mushrooms look like.

The breasts and their skin are sitting in another bowl, deciding what they'll be. One breast is arguing for pan cooking in a Dijon mustard sauce - canard a moutarde. Another wants to be slow braised, sauced, and sliced into little soft buns - duck sliders. The others are undecided - I think one is still wanting to fly again :'-(

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:48PM
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jimster

OTH, one of the items on the CNY feast served by our Chinese friends was tea smoked duck. It was cut up. I don't know how it affected our luck the rest of the year -- maybe badly -- but we felt lucky to be eating it at the time.

John, I think this is an opportune time for making confit. Later, use the confit in cassoulet.

Jim

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:50PM
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jadeite

I've been to at least a dozen New Year dinners hosted by Chinese from PRC or Taiwan or Hong Kong at which duck was served. It was ALWAYS cut into pieces, so I don't get the statement that it shouldn't be cut. I've served red-cooked duck at my own New Year dinners that was also cut up, and none of my guests told me it shouldn't be done this way. If anyone knows traditional Chinese ladies, they don't hesitate to tell you when you're wrong!

Roasting duck is very messy. The duck fat spatters all over the inside of the oven. There's no way I know of to get the duck skin crispy without all the mess. I've given up on doing duck this way, I much prefer either to red cook it on the cooktop, or break it up and cook the breast separately from the legs and wings.

John - I like pan seared duck breast with a gastrique. It's fast and the combination of the sweet and tart sauce goes beautifully with the richness of duck.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:10PM
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dcarch7

Actually, I saw that on a PBS documentary recently, I should be more specific.

I meant don't cut off the head and tail. Cutting is OK, but the duck (chicken, or fish) should always be served with the head and the tail.

If you Google "Chinese Festival Food" you will find many references regarding this tradition.

"---For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year---"

dcarch

This post was edited by dcarch on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 19:03

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:43PM
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jimster

It doesn't surprise me to learn of the symbolism concerning cutting up the duck. I've known forever about the sanction in Chinese cooking against cutting up fish. I adhere to that principle (when possible) for aesthetic reasons, not for symbolism or superstition. My understanding is that cutting up the fish is viewed as mutilation.

So far as John's duck is concerned, I have a craving for cassoulet so I'm going with French tradition, not Chinese. Therefore, confit.

Jim

This post was edited by jimster on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 17:21

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:17PM
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johnliu_gw

Cheryl, the gastrique sounds good, I'll do it! I didn't read your post before riding to the store, but I think I have enough stuff here to improvise.

Brought home various mushrooms, some indifferent tomatoes, some red quinoa, and aromatic stuff for soup. The stock is straining through a coffee filter. The duck-mushroom-tomato soup is for SWMBO who is coming down with a cold as we speak,

Two colors of fingerling potatoes, plus carrots and gold and red beets, for roasting in duck fat. The confit is cooked and ready to be refrigerated, there should be enough fat left over for roasting. The roast potatoes should be popular with my daughter who has been at a speech & debate competition this weekend,

My son has been sick, so as a treat for him I might make some duck fat french fries. I think everyone will eat the breast breast and gastrique.

As for me, oddly, as I work on the duck dishes, I'm finding myself more in a mood for sushi. What to do? Ah, so nice to have First World problems.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 17:36

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:33PM
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jadeite

dcarch - yes I know about the whole fish. I've been told LOUDLY that the fish must be whole. It's a PITA to find a pan big enough to cook a whole fish so I usually skip it and go with shrimp or scallops. At least that doesn't get me scolded by the aunties and grannies.

I have a houseful of Asians coming tomorrow so I'll ask about the duck. I have bowls of filling for jiaozi on my kitchen counter so that's my next job. I'm not making the wrappers (more clucking from the old guard), no time. Then I have to roll out noodles.

John - if you're not in the mood for duck breast, I'll gladly take it off your hands. Your menu sounds magnificent.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:58PM
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johnliu_gw

Gastrique can be made w/ blueberries, eh? Hope so, that is all I have here fruit-wise, other than apples, bananas, and tangerines.

I do have a bottle of spiced vinegar that JessyF sent me - probably use that instead of rice vinegar, plain white vinegar, or balsamic.

~ Later ~

Gastrique with blueberries, brown sugar, spiced vinegar, single-malt scotch - it looks and tastes promising. I actually think it has ice cream potential, an experiment for someday.

Soup is mostly done, just waiting for adjustment and garnish. I sauteed the mushrooms in duck fat, and peeled and roasted the tomatoes, before adding them.

Was wondering what to do with the tomato peels; they have a lot of flavour but slimy peels are not nice in soup. Turns out that you can put the peels in a food processor with duck stock, walnuts, and garlic and make a tomato pesto, then sauté the aromatics in that pesto before they go in the pot.

It adds a meaty tomato flavour without all the diluting water that tomatoes tend to bring. Roasting the tomato flesh also gets rid of some water.

~~ Later ~~

Well, I am ready to grill the duck breasts, but everyone is sleeping. Sleep is good when you're under the weather. I guess I'll wait until there are signs of life upstairs before starting the last steps.

In the meantime, I have also discovered that Maroon 5 is great cooking music.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 20:49

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:17PM
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jadeite

I haven't made it with blueberries, but blackberries make a very tasty gastrique indeed. I wouldn't use apples or bananas. Duck and orange are a classic combination, so tangerine might be very nice too. I've used rice vinegar and wine vinegar.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:15PM
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johnliu_gw

Son has a rash - amoxicillin allergy? - and only wants Top Ramen for dinner. I snuck some duck cracklings in there but he's not really a "customer."

SWMBO is in bed, accepting bowls of soup as they are brought up to her.

No customers for

Or for

And, as I said, only getting "delivery" orders for

So far, what this was made into is sitting on the counter congealing. No orders for grilled duck breast, with or without blueberry gastrique.

Sigh. Looks like this dinner is headed directly to the left-over containers. Or in the case of the duck, back to the cooler to try again tomorrow. Maybe I'll can persuade the neighbors to eat a couple of duck breasts.

Fortunately, I enjoy cooking for its own sake.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:40PM
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colleenoz

I get a rash from clarithromycin, took two bouts to work out that was the cause. First time was in Viet Nam, got a huge laugh when a local pharmacist offered a cream for genital warts as a cure :-)
Hope your family gets better soon, wish I was there :-) I'd eat your yummy looking food.....

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Islay_Corbel

I feel an urge to clear up something...... a gastrique is not a sauce...... it's simply vinegar and sugar that is used as a base for a sauce that you give a name to. Sauce aux framboises for example. If you put the word gastrique on a menu here we would run for the hills:-)
Your food looks amazing!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:54AM
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foodonastump

Thanks islay - this thread actually had me google gastrique. In my mind I kind of know what to expect when something comes with a gastrique, but I wasn't exactly sure what the definition is. What you said is correct, however Wiki notes that, "Nowadays, the term is frequently used to refer to any thus-flavored sauce itself, e.g. citrus gastrique, mango gastrique."

John, looks good and I'd have gladly eaten any and all of it. I hope you come up with something creative with the leftovers. I like the buns idea.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:33AM
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jadeite

John - everything looks great. Did you taste it yourself? It's too bad your family is down. I hope they make a quick recovery.

Islay - gastrique has been a regular term on menus in the US for years. That's where I learnt about it.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:20AM
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johnliu_gw

I tasted everything, but after slow supping on duck cracklings and Obsidian Stout (Deschutes Brewery, Bend OR) all afternoon, I wasn't that hungry by evening. Today I will try to scare up some takers for duck breast and serve the meal.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:49PM
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lpinkmountain

Duck with blueberry gastrique sauce (or whatever). Be still my heart! And those roasted fruits and veggies look scrumptious too!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:47PM
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johnliu_gw

The dinner was served tonight, but it was half-hearted on all side - SWMBO and my son are still sick, dear daughter might be sinking, and I have the start of something. Current symptoms are a wincing headache, achy joints, and a draggy feeling. Crap, I have to go on a trip Tuesday.

Back to the food - the duck breast turned out tasty, I couldn't get the gastrique-or-whatever-we're-calling-it to look pretty so I left it off for the pics (I didn't process it smooth enough for a squeeze bottle, lesson learned). The veg is pretty charred after re-heating but tasted fine.

I'm taking a Tylenol PM and going to bed. Thank you all for helping me with this "meal".

Oh, P.S. I've decided it could be fun for those of us who cook with music to mention what we were listening to when we made whatever we're talking about. Tonight: Lana Del Rey, Isaac Hayes.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Feb 10, 13 at 21:48

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:38PM
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whgille

John, I hope that everyone in your family is doing better today. I had fun reading this thread.
The food looks amazing!

Silvia

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:37AM
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ann_t

I'm sorry your family wasn't up to really enjoying your dinner. It looks wonderful.

Hope you feel better soon.

~Ann

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 10:05AM
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dcarch7

If you Google "perfect duck breast", you will find pictures of duck breasts done the same way as John's, including many famous chefs.

Good job, John.

dcarch

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 1:09PM
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