11.21.09: dinner (or: a pre-Thanksgiving duck-focused exercise in delicious eats).

Duck Fillets with Figs

Duck Fillets with Figs

Two words: duck and figs.  I was watching Fine Living Network after dinner one night (I know, it’s so embarrassing…), and they were showing a classic Emeril Live! The big guy (who, having done cooking on live-tape TV myself, is incredible in what he pulls off) was gushing over duck, and I think the entire episode may have been about duck.  Alton Brown did a duck episode a few years back, but it involves cast iron pans and while we have one, I haven’t cured it in fat yet (still, actually).  I have wanted to go for duck for so long, but without direction, these urges have never come to fruition.

I had been more than a little depressed about having to do Thanksgiving at my in-laws, only because I don’t do the holiday cooking when we’re there.  So the weekend before, I decided to go for it.  Elizabeth found an incredible meat counter at the Citarella’s at 75th St.  They stock fresh Long Island Pekin duck, the ancestors of a few ducks brought to the US from China in the 1870’s (more on this later).  I needed a simple and traditional preparation that would allow me to focus on the birdie and so, I did what I always do in this situation:  I took out the Silver Spoon, tossed it to the wife and asked her to pick us a winner.

I should have guessed what would come of this.  Duck and Figs.  It’s a simple and delicious as it sounds.  The recipe calls for 5 lbs of figs, which at today’s rates would run you just over $50, so we settled on 2 lbs, which was perfect. [Ed.–the figs were also on the large side (definitely not Mission figs), so had we purchased more than we did we would have been overwhelmed.] Essentially, you oven roast the duck at 400 degrees F for and hour or so than make a sauce out of the duck fat, the raw liver and red, red wine.  The figs get roasted for a few minutes afterwards and it all gets served family style on one big plate with fried bread crumbs.  I loved that while not at all cheap, there were so few ingredients, we could focus on making them great, both in purchasing and preparation.

As alluded to above, I was watching my beloved Good Eats tonight an lo and behold, he roasts a duck for Christmas dinner.  What’s more, he employs a battery of tricks to ensure perfect cooking and crisp skin that are brilliantly unorthodox.  I guess it’s just inspiration for next time and now that the beast has been demystified, I will go forth without fear.  Until then, dear readers, cook on!

  1. **raising her hand**….Hi, I’m TKW, I am duck-phobic. I’m always afraid I’ll set my oven on fire or something.

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