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Duck for dinner

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Great dishes featuring duck

a succulent Peking duck ready for carving

My wife and I have been incorporating more and more poultry into our diet and a good roast chicken is a staple, especially on a Sunday night. I love that the leftovers can be used to make a mouthwatering chicken salad sandwich for the next day’s lunch while using the carcass and bones to create a homemade stock for freezing. But we also have been trying to broaden our range of poultry and have recently focused on duck as part of our burgeoning repertoire of poultry dishes.

tea smoked duck on the Big Green Egg

Smoked duck on the Big Green Egg

I remember my first attempt at duck was a dish from a cookbook I use often, Williams Sonoma Grilling. Among the many succulent grilling options (including chicken under a brick), there is a recipe for a tea-smoked duck breast that is absolutely sublime. The duck breasts are allowed to marinate for a while in a paste made of earl grey tea, orange juice concentrate, soy and spices. Then they are gently smoked on the Big Green Egg over medium heat and a smoking box containing a mixture comprising more tea leaves, wood chips and spices. This cooking method leaves a nice layer of tender, mouth-watering duck fat on top! I often serve a home-made cranberry sauce with this dish, accompanied by a Pinot Noir.

duck rice with copious amounts of chorizo sausage

Portuguese duck rice

When we lived in Portugal, one of my favorite dishes was duck rice. It was not typical to find duck on a menu unless it was a component of this recipe that is like a baked risotto with duck and chorizo. The duck (I prefer legs, because the dark meat is richer and more tender) is lightly cooked in a stock flavored with herbs and spices. Once removed, the rice is then cooked in the same stock. The rice, shredded duck, garlic, onion and chorizo are then placed in a baking dish and baked in the oven until the rice is crisp and golden. This dish stands alone paired with an Alentejo red from Portugal.

Cassoulet with confit de canard

As my readers know well, I am always looking to experiment with new dishes over the holidays. We have moved on from the traditional roast turkey at Thanksgiving in favor of other types of fowl, or inventive dishes that evoke traditional flavors of the holiday. We like to do the same at Christmas, often involving lobster or venison.

confit of duck starts with a 'bath' in hot oil

This past Christmas we tried a cassoulet, which is a French dish comprising white beans with meat. For this dish I bought duck legs and prepared a confit, which is a method of slow cooking duck legs in fat.

the cassoulet takes a few days to prepare, but worth it!

After allowing the cooked legs to cool, they are then added to white beans that have been soaked overnight and then cooked with tomato, garlic, onions, herbs and sausage. The confit of duck is then served over top of the cassoulet and paired with a Côtes du Rhone from France, or in our case a nice Alentejo red.

Bon Appétit!

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