Category Archives: Duck
Oh, the best laid plans…
So earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to make a rabbit stew. It’s perfect timing. It recently became the Year of the Rabbit on the Chinese calendar. Plus, I (along with another friend at work) kidnapped my Platonic Work Spouse (PWS)’s sequined bunny a few weeks ago as an office prank. It was a white elephant gift left over from the holidays, so we stole it and held it captive. Since then, there have been a number of running bunny jokes around the team.
I found a neighborhood butcher in the heart of Del Ray, a cute little subdivision near my apartment called Lets Meat on the Avenue. I emailed Steve from my newly created Studio Foodie email account asking about the pricing and delivery of rabbit meat. I have the email set to auto forward to my personal account, but apparently that didn’t happen. Steve, the owner of the shop, emailed me back pretty quickly but I didn’t get it in time for him to place an order.
I woke up bright and early this morning, excited for the day. I had planned on visiting a local, year-round farmers market for some produce, then hit up a café with a friend, and head on over to the butcher. And of course, it was gross and rainy, so the farmers market was a bust. (I ended up getting vegetables for the stew at a nearby Giant). I had a nice breakfast with my friend Missy at Caboose, a café down the street from the butcher. I ended up deciding on a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel, half a cinnamon twist, and a cup of coffee. It wasn’t anything life changing, but it was still good quality food, and perfect for a drizzly winter morning.
After breakfast, Missy went off for a massage and I went to the butcher. There were no rabbits in stock, since I messed up with the email thing. I was disappointed, but cooking is about rolling with the punches. You gotta adapt and change with what’s thrown at you.
The best laid plans…
So I bought a duck. (Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!) And as I left, with my duck (and a dozen eggs) in a paper bag, I suddenly realized I might have bitten off more than I could chew. (Ha! Funny food blog jokes!) I wanted the duck to go in the stew. But you can’t just throw a whole bird in there. Birds must be…deboned.
I don’t know how to debone a duck. Like, at all. I’ve carved chickens and turkeys before, but those were always cooked first, and that’s different. When I got home, I put the duck in a bowl with some running water in the sink to let it finish defrosting. Then I googled.
Thank God for Google. I have no idea what people did in times before internet searches. They probably starved, or didn’t do things like debone ducks. Luckily, I found a youtube video with some pretty straight-forward instructions on what to do. I’ve hyperlinked since this guy can explain it better than I can.
Basically, I made a bunch of cuts until I had duck pieces. And a huge mess. Duck guts were all over my kitchen, despite my best efforts. My two cats were highly frustrated because of this. They could see the duck and smell the duck, but they couldn’t get to the duck. They tried though, but nothing doing. Isolde, my sometimes-bitchy cat, bit me later in punishment.
I’m sad that I can’t provide photos of my adventures. It’s hard to wield a knife, hold a duck, fend off mooching cats, and take photos at the same time. But trust me, it was hilarious.
So when I was done, I had cut up duck, a ridiculous amount of skin, and a carcass. I decided that my new goal is to let no part go unused—everything gets turned into something. The skin got put into a Ziploc bag. Later, im going to render out the fat for use in later meals, so I can save my butter for baking.
The bones I threw into a stockpot, along with a carrot, a few stocks of celery, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and two bay leafs. I covered it all with water and set it to boil, then reduced the heat to medium and simmered for two hours. I strained it into a clean bowl, and voila! Duck stock!!
While the stock was on the stove, I facebook chatted with a friend of mine. He’s moving out of town in less than two weeks. Yesterday, I had invited him over to share the stew, with the idea that it would be a nice goodbye dinner for him. He pulled out on me at the last minute, preferring a nap instead. But that’s ok. He’ll probably have a sandwich, and I’ll have delicious duck stew.
The best laid plans…
Finally, the pot of golden liquidy goodness was done! I discarded the carcass and the vegetables, and was left with a beautiful pot of stock. Stock with bits of duck meat, vegetable shreds, and dried herbs floating around. Absolutely appetizing.
It needed straining. And I didn’t have a sieve. But cooking is about improvising, right? I may not have a full size sieve, but I did find a small strainer I bought to keep the pits out of my orange juice while I was going through a fresh squeezed juice phase a while ago.
Oh that’s right. I ladled that entire pot of stock through the little itty bitty thing. It’s slightly larger than a tea strainer. And it worked like a flippin’ charm. I did burn the hell out of my left pointer finger though. Battle scars!!
Now…for the stew. I based this off a recipe I found on the Food Network site, but I changed it a bit, both the ingredients and instructions. I don’t like onions or parsnips, so I left those out. I also forgot to buy red wine, and the only stuff I had on hand was a super expensive bottle of reserve I bought a few months ago. In no way am I cooking anything in a $70 bottle of wine. Ever. So I added more stock to make up for the different in liquid.
I’ve linked to the original recipe if you want to follow that, but this is just how I did it.
1 duck, deboned and cut into bite sized chunks
5 carrots, sliced
5 celery stalks (I bought the celery hearts)
3 red potatoes
1 tablespoon garlic
¼ cup flour
4 cups duck stock
Dried basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large French oven, heat enough olive oil to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. When this has heated (put your hand over the pot. If you can hold it there more than 6-7 seconds, it’s not hot enough), add the carrots and the celery. While these are cooking, toss your duck pieces with the flour. (Less Mess Note: do this is a Ziploc bag. Way easier than a bowl.)
After the veggies have cooked about 2-3 minutes (on high, longer if you’re cooking at a lower temp), add the flour-coated duck. Using a wooden spoon, stir this around a bit. You want some of the flour to rub off on the veggies. The flour acts a thickening agent, so you really want everything to feel the love.
After about three minutes, it’s going to start to smell really good. When it gets to the point where the aroma makes you hungry, add your duck stock. At this point, you should also add the potatoes, garlic and herbs.
Bring to a boil, then cover and stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check the vegetables and the taste, and if you need to let it go longer, go for it. From personal experience, make sure you move the oven racks BEFORE its time to put the stew in. Those suckers get hot, and it’s a pain in the ass to move hot metal around!
After trying a bowl full, I think I want to make it exactly true to the original recipe and see what happens. The stew was perfect for a cold winters night, and I had a ton of fun making it, but it was a bit bland for my liking. I added some more salt and pepper, and it still didn’t quite work. I think if I were to do this again, I’d make sure I had the right wine on hand—I’m sure that’s what makes the difference.