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The Duck Dinner That Wasn't.....Dinner

It started off with so much promise and duck, three to be exact. I found a recipe for maple-balsamic marinated duck with a spiced cranberry persimmon chutney, Julie and Charly were coming for dinner and Jack was home from Madison— three very, very good things. There was one other good thing in the mix, four bottles of my latest delivery from WTSO.com— a lovely 2010 Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc. Looking back, I'm pretty sure the wine was a contributing factor in the dinner (or lack thereof) disaster.

I've had three major dinner disasters: two with my brother Tom (a horribly tough braised pheasant and an Easter lamb gone wrong) and my newest miss— the duck dinner that wasn't dinner with Julie and Charly. The lamb and duck fiascoes both share a major technical failure— the oven decided to take a hiatus while it was supposed to be on task and roasting the meat. In the interest of full disclosure, there was another common denominator— some seriously good wine and the resulting lack of attention to detail (or time). It's hard to remember to check the duck when you're laughing, telling stories and generally reveling in the fact your kitchen is full of some your favorite people in the world.

It gets a little tricky because even favorite people eventually want to eat dinner. The chutney was perfect (and cooked) but by the time I noticed the duck was languishing in a temperate oven, it was late in the evening (even for me). We re-lit the oven, raised the temperature to 450 degrees and hoped for the best. As it turns out, duck doesn't respond well to 4 hours in the oven with a variety of different temperatures and admitting duck defeat was the right thing to do. We ate some potatoes, salad, a few pieces of meat (that somehow managed to get cooked), finished our glasses of wine and had a good laugh about our duck-less dinner. There was an upside to the situation— lots of beautiful, golden duck broth in my freezer. A cantankerous oven won't keep me down and there's a duck redemption dinner in my future— maple balsamic roasted duck sounds too good to pass up (assuming my oven cooperates).

Maple Balsamic Roasted Duck with a Spiced Cranberry Persimmon Chutney (from Spoonforkbacon.com)

Spiced Cranberry Persimmon Chutney
2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 orange, zested and juiced
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Duck and Glaze
1 (4-5 lb.) roasting duck
4 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
5 tangerines, quartered
3 lemons, quartered
3 sprigs thyme
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 orange, zested and juiced
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. fresh minced thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation
Chutney preparation. Place all ingredients into a medium pot and stir together. Place over medium high and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until cranberries and persimmons become tender and begin to melt together. Set aside. Gently re-warm when ready to serve.

Duck and glaze preparation. 24 hours before roasting, place duck onto a clean plate and cut a cross hatch pattern all over the skin with a knife. Pat dry and place duck in the refrigerator, uncovered, to allow skin to dry.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and remove duck from the refrigerator. Fill cavity with aromatics (onions, tangerines, lemons, thyme). Tie legs together with twine and tuck winds behind back. Place the remaining onions, lemons, tangerines and thyme in the roasting pan and place the duck on top. Season with kosher salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together all glaze ingredients and begin to brush duck with glaze and continue to roast for about 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes. Once the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, raise the oven temperature up to 425 degrees and finish roasting for 10 minutes. If the skin isn't as crispy as you like, place it under the broiler but watch it very carefully, the glaze will burn. Remove from oven and allow duck to sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer onto a prepared platter and serve with chutney.