Roast Duck, Rillette de Canard and Harto

It was by pure chance that there was fresh duck available at the local supermarket for €9.95. Normally they are closer to twenty, or more if your into organic and all that. We went mad and got two of the creatures. Turned out to be the best culinary decision in a good while and have made lots of nommies out of it!

Basics for a duck. It’s just like a chicken or turkey – except they don’t usually fully remove all the innards, so you may have to go routing around inside and remove the kidneys and the lungs. It was an interesting biology lesson for my little brother. I prefer whatever poultry I cook to be very clean inside and out.

Because duck is such a fatty bird I also, unlike a lot of recipes I’ve seen out there,  tend to cut off as much of the excess fat found around the neck, at the tail and inside the duck itself. Grab, pull and cut it off, because god knows the duck has enough of it. Once clean, dry by patting down and place on a rack in an oven dish.

Season the inside of the duck by throwing half a lemon, some thyme, and salt and pepper inside it. Score the skin and make sure any little feather stumps are pulled off. Roast it according to Julia Child’s Mastering the art of french cooking – because she too is a goddess – 5-6lb/2.5-3 kg duck for 1 hour and 40mins. Turn the duck around during this time, crisping all side and pricking the thighs and breasts to test for the colour of the juices.

The ultimate test should provide you with a clear to yellowish juice when the leg or breast is pierced with a skewer, NOT a brown one. Once the meat juice is brown – the duck in Julia’s words “is disappointing” so make sure its a translucent yellow. Leave to rest and serve with traditional roast  accompaniments for Sunday dinner

We had dinner, but still had about a duck worth of meat left over. Thank God, because what was made then is just delicious. If you didn’t use the meat juices from the pan for a gravy – excellent – use them instead now and transfer them to a deep roasting dish. Add some duck fat, some stock and a load of spices; I used garlic, thyme and a bit of sage. Pillage the duck for any little bit of meat left on it and add to the roasting dish in small shredded chunks. Roast in the oven for another hour, or two, until most of the chunks of duck have crisped on one side at least. Remove and let cool for a little while

Pour all of the now twice-roasted duck and some stock into a food processor and let whizz! Remove it and place it in a pot over a little heat, adding butter and stock until the very small fibrous shreds of meat are soft and covered in a moist but not dripping stock-sauce.

Place in bottles, small kilner jars or in my case ramekin dishes. Let cool a little more, making sure that the meat is flattened down into the dish with the back of a spoon. Melt some butter and pour over the rillette in each dish, adding a sprig of thyme and a few red pepper kernels to each dish too! The butter will seal the duck for up to two weeks or more, keeping it in the fridge. If sealed correctly in a kilner jar it can keep for several months – but this needs to be done properly to work!

Serve with crackers or on a just-popped slice of toast for the best post-night-out midnight/early morning snack – or a much more respectable nibble when friends pop by.

On a different note – I am thoroughly enjoying a different type of cooking blog! Enjoy it’s fabulous. http://hartoandco.com/my-drunk-kitchen/

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