Life in a Northern Town

Knock Your Socks Off Duck- Yes, It's That Good

It's going to be a good winter around the Dougherty house. My exploration of meatballs is well underway and I've recently added duck to the agenda. For some reason, cooking a duck in my very own oven never occurred to me. Which is really strange given the steady stream of cookery ideas that pop into my head randomly throughout the day. I don't know if it was the whole fancy French confit bit or that there aren't any duck hunters under this roof but up to this point, my kitchen has been a quack-free zone.

It all changed when I was strolling through the Washburn IGA. I happened to look in the frozen meat case and there it was— 5 pounds of duck, wrapped in white plastic and ready to come home with me. I had a new cookbook on the shelf, Canal House Cooking Vol. 2 with a recipe for duck with apples and onions— perfect for my two IGA frozen lovelies. The Canal House series wasn't on my radar until Jill gave me the cookbook for my birthday— I was immediately taken with the pictures, layout and recipes (it's good to have friends who love good food and design). There are 8 or 9 volumes, each book costs about 10.00 and they are so pretty to look at— I can't wait to cook my way through all of these lovely pages.

Duck With Apples And Onions(Adapted From Canal House Cooking Volume 2)

One 5 - 6 pound duck, cut into 8 - 10 pieces, including excess skin and fat, diced (I spatchcocked the duck, instead of cutting into pieces)
4 small onions, halved lengthwise
4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup port
Salt and pepper (I used my herbed garlic salt)

Preparation
Season the duck on all sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the duck skin side down in a large skillet with a cover. Scatter the skin and fat around the duck. Cook over medium-high heat (resist the temptation to turn the duck; leave it skin side down the whole time) until the duck is very well browned, about 20 minutes. Leave the duck skin side down, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes more. Transfer the duck and most of the cracklings from the skillet to a platter with a slotted spoon. Place in a warm oven (don't cover, the skin will get soggy) .

Add the onions cut side down along with the apples, thyme and rosemary to the skillet with all the duck fat and juices. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the onions and apples, taking care to keep the onion halves whole, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the apples and onions are tender, about 15 minutes more. Remove the onions and apples from the skillet and arrange them around the duck.

Pour off and discard the fat from the skillet. Add the port and cream to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits form the bottom of the skillet. Pour the sauce over the duck, garnish with reserved thyme and rosemary and serve.