Roast Duck with Fruit
In this unusual preparation, the legs and breasts go separate ways. The legs are cooked for six to seven hours in very low heat. The breast is prepared very close to serving time and seared, then roasted. The pieces are reunited on the plate. Chef Morisset uses gooseberry jelly; it is very rare. The plum jelly suggested will give good flavor, but it will not be identical to his French dish. Duck stock appears in every part of this dish, and is so important to the flavor that it is worth making the best stock you can ahead of time for use in the recipe. Note how few ingredients Chef Morisset uses to conjure great depth of flavor in this dish.
- Ducks - 2 whole, cleaned
- Peanut Oil - 1/4 cup
- Duck Stock - 3 cups (see Basics)
- Peaches - 2, pitted, peeled, and cut into sections
- Rhubarb Stalks - 4, pared and cut into 4-inch lengths
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup
- Duck Stock - 1/2 cup (see Basics)
- Gooseberry Jelly or Plum jelly - 1/4 cup
- Duck stock (see Basics) - 1/2 cup
- Freshly cracked black peppercorns - 1/2 cup
- Parsley Sprigs - 4
Cut up the ducks: Remove the legs at the hip joint. Wrap the remainder of the carcass in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
To prepare the legs: For each leg, remove the thigh bone. Pull the meat and skin up around the top of the remaining leg bone, and sew into place with heavy cotton thread. Push the meat upwards on the remaining leg bone to expose the bone, and wrap the bone in foil to keep it from getting too brown.
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and brown the legs on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 cups of duck stock. When the stock has heated, turn the legs to coat. Tightly cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Cook 6 to 7 hours; check once or twice to be sure it is moist. Remove from the oven, take out the thread and remove the foil, and put the legs into another ovenproof pan. Baste with 1 cup duck stock and keep warm while the breasts are prepared.
To prepare the breasts: Remove the ducks from the refrigerator. Cut down each side of the backbone and lift out the bone. Crack the breast cartilage and spread the breasts out flat.
Preheat the oven to 500 F, or highest temperature. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and place the flattened breasts, skin-side down, in the hot oil. Brown for 2 - 3 minutes, until golden, then turn with tongs and brown on the other side. Put in the oven and cook 5 to 6 minutes (adjust time if your oven temperature is lower). Remove the breasts and place on a rack over a pan to drain; tent with foil. Let drain for 5 minutes. The meat will still be rare.
To prepare the fruit: Preheat the oven to 450 F. In two medium ovenproof saute pans or skillets, melt the butter and saute the peach sections and the rhubarb separately until softened and lightly browned. Put into the oven and cook 4 - 5 minutes. Remove and stir 1/4 cup duck stock into each pan; return to the oven for 1 minute.
To assemble: When cooled enough to handle, divide and bone the breasts. Separate the small intact fillet (the supreme). Melt the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat and add 1/2 cup duck stock; stir to blend. Coat the duck legs in the jelly-stock mixture and dip them into the cracked peppercorns. Place a spoonful of peaches and a spoonful of rhubarb in the center of each of four serving plates. Nestle a duck leg on each, bone-end up, the cap with a small white paper frill. Slice each of the four duck breasts in half on the diagonal, and place the two halves, skin-side up, beside the fruit. Split the supremes and place two pieces over the duck breast slices on each plate. Garnish with parsley sprigs.