Duck in Green Peppercorn Sauce
Chef Willy Coln, who hails from Cologne, Germany, and began his apprenticeship in the kitchen at age 14, draws on his heritage for this dish, serving the rich golden-brown duck with a side dish of sweet-and-sour red cabbage. The green peppercorn sauce gains depth and color from the browning of the duck bones and trimmings. Note that this classic dish gains a flavor boost from the use of duck fat and that lard — shocking! — is used to brown the bacon and onions for the red cabbage. If that is too much for your contemporary sensibilities, substitute a neutral oil, or even a mixture of half oil, half duck fat or lard. Good thing we don’t eat this way every day.
- Duck - 2, 5 to 6 pounds each
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Onion - 1, roughly chopped
- Celery - 2 stalks, roughly chopped
- Carrot - 1, roughly chopped
- Dry Red Wine - 1 cup
- Chicken Stock - 2 cups
- Sage - 2 teaspoons
- Savory - 2 teaspoons
- Green Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Arrowroot - 2 teaspoons, dissolved in 1/2 cup water
- Red Cabbage
- Lean Bacon - 6 ounces, diced
- Onion - 6 ounces, finely chopped
- Lard - 4 ounces
- Red Cabbage - 6 pounds, finely sliced
- Apples - 3, peeled, cored, and sliced
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Red Wine - 2 cups
- Red Wine Vinegar - 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 2 teaspoons
- Salt to taste
- Pinch of white pepper
Duck in Green Peppercorn Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove the neck, neck skin, wings, and gizzards from the ducks and reserve for the sauce. Wash the ducks and pat dry. Salt and pepper the ducks inside and out. Place the ducks on a rack in a deep roasting pan and roast until done, about 45 minutes, basting the ducks twice with the drippings. Take the ducks out of the oven; when cool enough to handle, split cooked ducks in half along the back bones. Remove and reserve all bones for the sauce. Set the boned duck halves aside; keep warm. Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat from the drippings in the roasting pan.
In a large saucepan, on top of the stove, brown the neck, neck skin, wings, gizzards, and bones in the reserved duck fat with the onions, celery, and carrots. Add the red wine, chicken stock, sage, and savory. Reduce the broth to approximately 2 cups and strain. Toss green peppercorns in melted butter in a small saute pan. Add the reduced, strained broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer. Whisk the dissolved arrowroot into the sauce and simmer until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning. Set aside; keep warm.
Fifteen minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 325 F. Place the boned, halved ducks in a roasting pan with chicken stock to cover and reheat for 15 minutes.
To serve: Slice a duck half into 1/2-inch-thick piece and fan on a serving plate, skin-side up. Spoon green peppercorn sauce over the ducks. Serve with Red Cabbage (below).
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large saucepan, saute the bacon and onions in the lard until the onions are transparent. Add the cabbage, apples, bay leaf, wine, 1/4 cup of the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Cover and place in the oven for 1-1/2 hours. Just before serving, heat the remaining vinegar and stir into the cabbage.