Canard aux Navets…umm…Carrottes

7 01 2009

With my most sincere apologies to Iceberg, Knot-head, Pokemon and Dusty, this week’s class has us learning roasting techniques as applied to “canard”…umm…duck.  Those are our 4 backyard friends…who waddle and quack and keep Life entertaining.  You can’t watch them 5 minutes without laughing.  I wasn’t too sure about this one.  Once I took a look at the piece of meat I was going to wash, season, truss and roast…it was a piece of meat and the boys quacked on.  It’s all good.

This lesson left me feeling very insecure and at odds with myself and the recipe.  I still don’t feel like I did this right, or I feel the recipe left something out somewhere.  I’ll read it all again tomorrow, and likely find where I messed up.  That’s not to say we had a complete failure, but am I ever glad I didn’t have to take my plate to a master chef who knew what my dish was to taste like!  I was able to work a little sleight of culinary hand and pull off a creditable meal, but it was oh! So close!

The very first obstacle was trying to decide if I should use the whole quantity of liquid for my duck, seeing as I was halving the recipe, using only one duck.  I compromised.  I started with 2 cups of stock, but…sadly, not veal.  Veal bones continue to elude me.  I don’t think the holidays helped me reach the best folks to ask either.  So, I used good homemade beef stock that we canned ourselves.  I cooked a lot during my 2 week Christmas break!!  Ok, so we have fewer duck bones for the pan.  We want the wing tips and necks to be part of the goodies creating our fond.  Oops.  One wing tip is missing.  I am displeased, but undaunted.   The missing wing tip totally threw me off, and I totally forgot to remove the wishbone.  I didn’t even give it a thought.  I seasoned that baby and trussed it right up.

The next step was to brown the duck in the roasting pan.  I didn’t have a roasting pan that would fit, so I used a BIG (7-1/2 qt.) skillet to brown the duck.  This took a bit, but I was pleased with the color in the end.


I used a roasting rack…Loved that part!  It kept the duck positioned nicely with no difficulty at all!  I chopped an onion, and chopped the trimmings from my turned carrots for the roasting pan.  The drippings from the skillet went into the roasting pan as well.  At this point, our little duck went into the oven for 20 minutes.  We were supposed to baste it frequently.  That struck me as odd.  2o minutes isn’t that long a time…but who am I?  The student, that’s right!  “Frequently” worked out to be every 10 minutes.  I started being concerned when I looked in the pan after the first 20 minutes…there were no “juices” in the pan.  All that was there was fat and veggies.  Hmmm….Oh well.  Turn the duck and see how things are in 20 minutes.

At this point I’ll purr about my new toy.  This is my new baster.  My hubby thought something I could take apart and clean would make me happier.  This also has a cleaning brush AND an injection tip that screws into the end of the baster.  It was wonderful and worked great.

Turn, turn, turn…This is my first attempt at turning a veggie.  Not horrible, but not much good either.  My second try was the potatoes for my salmon last week in a “rewind” lesson.  The ones that follow are my 3rd effort.  I don’t have this mastered yet, and I prefer cutting the potatoes over the carrots.  Turnips?  Ummm…they’re with the veal bones!  Well, maybe not really, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

About the time it was time to turn the duck breast-up, I noticed it was full of liquid in the body cavity.   Now…since it’s been in there for the past 40 minutes anyway, should it continue to stay there?  I poured it into the roasting pan so I could use it to baste the duck.  I’m not so sure that was the thing to do, now.  Another thing I noticed was that my pan veggies were burning.  That didn’t make me happy in the least.  I was hoping to have the duck fat for another purpose.  The duck continued to roast for the suggested 40 minutes, being basted “frequently.”   I needed to be careful drawing up basting liquid (I was also using the reduced broth too), because I was getting blackened flecks in the basting liquid from the pan.canard
Without regard to the things that worried me and kept me guessing, after about 2 hours we had a lovely roasted duck.  Every bit of anything in the roasting pan was charred black and smelled bitter.  There was no way I was going to deglaze that.  When I realized that perhaps the juices from inside the duck should be saved in the pan with the stock, it was a little late to save about half of the juices.  The neck and the one wing tip were toasted a lovely brown, so I tossed them into the saucepan with the remaining bit of stock, duck juices, the bouquet garni and 1/2 cup of white wine.  I was saddened at losing the caramelized onions and carrots from the pan, but…that’s why they sell those reduced essences.  I admit, I used a bit of seasoning rather than have a sauce that was tasteless.  I also thickened it with a bit of cornstarch.  Since I was doing carrots instead of turnips, I cooked them in a very similar way.  I boiled them, sauteed them in butter with sugar, and added finely chopped fresh ginger to the pan.  Those were some yummy carrots!  They offered a nice sweetness to contrast to the richness of the duck.  The duck was tender and moist, with a rich flavor.  I’ve not had much duck, so I’m not sure what flavor I should expect.  I have a co-worker who is a duck-lover though, so I’m going to take her a packet to taste.  I’d do this again, but maybe not quite the same way…but I’m intrigued!