October 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
I am aware that ‘Julia Child’ as a concept has been done over and over again. No one can talk about her in a way that is personal to them anymore. Julie Powell claimed Julia as her inspriation before anyone else did and now Julia has been taken. But I have Julia’s cook books and when I cook from them I follow her recipes’ every sentence. I do understand how Julie could have so intensely believed she knew Julia. The recipes Julia wrote make you feel as though you are in a conversation with her; “By the time you have completed half of this, the carcass frame, dangling legs, wings, and skin will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion and you will wonder how in the world any sense can be made of it all.” She has made it incredibly straight forward for those who don’t know ‘food’ and I would have loved to have spoken with her.
So. I boned a duck in the weekend. I never thoguht that would happen.
I was surprised how easy it was to be honest. And how un-frightful it was aswel.
I followed Julia’s guidance word-by-word, which is unlike me if I am being honest, which I am.
I took my very blunt knife and ran it down the spine.
Imagine pealing a fruit. Essentially you peal the skin and the flesh together ,off the spine and carcass. It is important to make sure the flesh remains on the skin and only comes off the bone.
Then remove the carcass just like this..
With your very sharp knife you seperate the duck breasts from the flesh and dice up the meat. Then place the meat back on the open skin and pour red wine over it. Yum. Place the stuffing on top of the drunk meat and pull the flesh up over the stuffing and truss your duck. I didn’t have a flesh sewing needle so I just used a skewer.
Then you brown the meat in very hot oil in a very hot pan. I am used to sizzling spraying oil which I think is unfortunate.
My favourite part of the whole process, including the eating of it, was wrapping it in pastry. Wrapping anything in pastry is utterly brilliant. It was like a present with a wee hat on top.
And then is goes into the oven and you watch it puff up and turn to gold. Nothing could be more satisfying than working in your kitchen with pastry. I sliced it, placed it on a platter for my family, poured all the juices over the pastry and we ate it, the entire bird, veal meat, pork fat and pastry garment. And it was good!
Pate de Canard en Croute
(preheat oven to 180°)
One whole duck
Pinch pf allspice
2 Tbsp cognac (or any brandy)
2 Tbsp port (or red wine)
Bone the duck as described above (you may need to read up more on boning if you are unfamiliar with it). Slice the breasts and all meat off the flesh. Dice it all up and place it on the boned duck facing up with the skin side facing down towards the bench. Pour over lots of salt and pepper, allspice, cognac and port.
Stuffing Preparation (adapted from Julia’s recipe slightly):
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup port (or red wine)
1 ½ cup veal diced
½ cup pork fat (as your butcher just for the fat) diced
big pinch of allspice
2 Tbsp thyme
2 crushed cloves of garlic
Throw all in a processor and process until really well combined. Take it out and mould it into a small rugby ball. Place it on top of the duck in the center of the flesh. Bring the duck skin up over the stuffing to enclose it and either truss the skin together or skewer it, like I did.
In a heavy based skillet heat about 2 Tbsp oil till it’s incredibly hot. Add the duck and brown all sides, about 2 minutes on each side.
2 sheets of store brought flaky/puff pastry
1 egg whisked
Lay out 2/3 of your pastry. Place the duck on the center and bring the pastry up over the duck. It will not reach right the way around. Egg-wash the top of the open pastry. Shape the other 1/3 of the pastry into a flat oval. Place it on top and press the pastry edges together so the duck is fully enclosed in the pastry. It will look like a flat hat on top of a pastry shaped rugby ball. At this stage you can ‘pretty it up’ by making pastry flowers and egg-washing them on to the pastry, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Egg-wash the entire surface of the pastry, poke holes in it with your knife and bake for 2 hours. And then slice, platter, pour over all juices and eat!