making food from anywhere, with anything

duck fat. enough said.

Good evening, everyone.

Amidst enjoying the nice weather, going for a few exhilarating runs, and falling way behind on the two papers I have to write, I roasted a duck Julia Child style.

I’ve never roasted a duck before.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had duck for a meal before (yes, really.).  Sure, I’ve tasted it once or twice whenever my mom has gotten it at a restaurant.  Other than that, it never interested me.  Not until now, anyway.  The allure of duck fat, crispy duck skin, delicious dark duck meat and promise of a great demi glace-based sauce drew me in.  The duck needed to be cooked.

french epi bread

With our duck, we had some delicious epi bread, which is a traditional French picnic bread. It’s composed of knots, which are typically torn off and used as rolls to accompany the meal.  You can tear them off pretty neatly, which keeps the integrity of the bread in tact so no other knots are ruined.  It’s got a great crunchy crust, and a very soft interior.  Delicious dipped in a good olive oil.

Also accompanying the duck was delicious roasted asparagus.  This recipe is extremely simple, and it comes out so well every time.

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus



roasted asparagus

extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Snap the rough ends of the asparagus off.

2. place on baking sheet in one layer.  drizzle with olive oil, coating thoroughly.  sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

3.  place sheet in oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

And now, for the duck.

caneton roti

Caneton Roti, straight out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 5 1/2 lb duckling

1 tsp salt, divided into two halves

1/8 tsp pepper

a pinch of thyme or sage

a small sliced onion

1 medium sliced carrot

1 medium sliced onion

1 1/2 – 2 cups brown duck stock, beef stock, or canned beef bouillon (optional: 3 or 4 TBSP port)

1-2 TBSP softened butter

Method: (before doing any seasoning, trim off excess fat by the tail.  you can also take off the wing tips, cutting them at the elbow.  i left mine on because i enjoy gnawing on the crispy tips – i’ll admit it.)

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Season inside of duck with salt, pepper, herbs, and the sliced onion.  Secure the legs, wings, and neck skin to the body.  Prick the skin around the thighs, back, and lower breast. Dry duck thoroughly.

3. place the duck breast up in the roasting pan, strew the vegetables around it, and set it in the middle level of the oven for 15 minutes to brown lightly.

4. reduce oven to 350 degrees, and turn the duck on its side. regulate heat so duck is always making cooking noises but fat is not burning. remove accumulated fat occasionally (use a bulb baster for this). basting is NOT necessary.

5. about 30 minutes later, or about halfway through your set cooking time, turn the duck on its other side.

6. fifteen minutes before the end of the estimated roasting time, salt the duck and turn it breast up.

7. the duck is done to a medium rare if the juices from the fattest part of the thigh or drumstick run faintly rosy when the meat is pricked, and when the duck is lifted and drained, the last drops of juice from the vent are a pale rose. the duck is well done when the juices run pale yellow.

8. when done, discard trussing strings, and place the duck on a serving platter. set in turned-off oven and leave the door open while preparing the sauce, which will take 3-4 minutes.

Making the sauce

1. tilt the roasting pan and spoon out all but 1 TBSP of fat.  add the stock or bouillon and boil rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, and crushing the vegetables until liquid is reduced at least by half.  correct seasoning. add optional wine and simmer a minute to evaporate its alcohol.

2. off heat and just before serving, swirl the butter into the sauce and strain it into a sauceboat. pour a bit of the sauce over the duck and serve.

I followed her recipe pretty exactly, except instead of placing an onion inside the duck, I put in a few garlic cloves.  This didn’t seem to affect the taste of the duck, but it provided a nice aromatic element.  I also took it upon myself to season the outside of the duck before placing it in the oven.  Although the duck skin has a lot of flavor anyway, I wanted some salt and pepper on it beforehand.  Salting it at the end really makes a difference (who doesn’t love salty skin?).

I chose not to make her sauce, and made one of demi glace and port instead.

The Other Sauce

3-4 TBSP demi glace

1/2 cup port

1 shallot, diced

2-3 TBSP duck fat


1. heat the duck fat in a saute pan.  add the shallots and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

2. add the port, and bring to a boil.  cook until most of the liquid has reduced.

3. add the demi glace, bring to a boil for about 1 minute.  transfer to a sauceboat and serve.

That sauce was really good.

Tomorrow night?  Steak.  It’s marinading as I write.

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