Eastside Road, Healdsburg, February 7, 2009
THERE ARE NOT many things better to eat, we think, than duck. Yesterday I bought a "duck leg," which in fact was leg and thigh and a good part of the breast and back — the aft portside quarter of a duck, I suppose.
I radically adapted a recipe in Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South-West France, simplifying it shamelessly. I soaked four prunes in a half-cup of tea. Then I trimmed the fat from the duck and rendered it in an enamel skillet, reserving most of the resulting fat for tomorrow or later. Then I cooked the duck pieces slowly for ten minutes or so, turning them a few times. I put them in a heavy pot with a fair amount of thyme, a garlic clove or two (unpeeled), and salt and pepper.
I sliced an onion quite thin and cooked it in the skillet, then added it to the duck. I deglazed the skillet with a teaspoon of mustard and another of wine vinegar and say a quarter-cup of red wine. When that was reduced to nearly nothing I added another quarter-cup of wine. The resulting demi-glace went into the pot with the duck, along with another splash of wine and a cup or two of stock, and a carrot.
This simmered for an hour and a half. Then I put the duck on the serving plates, on a bed of radicchio and arugula, and put the onions, carrot, and liquid, including the tea but not the prunes, through a food mill, then reduced it to a nice heavy sauce. The prunes went alongside the duck; the sauce over. I'd boiled some potatoes to go on the side.
Green salad, of course.
Cheap côtes de Ventoux 2006, "La ferme Julien"