While I'm writing Chapter Eleven of "Reaching Out To The City Lights", I'll give you something to chew over in the meantime. My mind has turned to ducks lately...cooked ducks. I think the next time I have friends over to lunch, I'll serve duck, probably the one in the sour cherry sauce.
When I was living up in north Queensland, my brother visited me often, very often, on weekends, no matter where I was living at any given time, as long as it was within a couple of hours drive from Mackay. He had friends who raised ducks on a farm at Homebush, just south-west of Mackay. Graham, my brother, decided it would be a great idea to grab a couple of fresh ducks off his friends and bring them to me for me to cook. The "plan" was for me to prepare the duck; he and I would dine on it. Well, we tried many times before eventually the "plan" succeeded. One thing or the other always seemed to get in the way of our duck feast, usually one too many drinks. My late brother was one who never drank with his meals, or rarely, and never ever drank after he had eaten. Therein laid the problem! He was always having "one more", so by the time it came around to eating said duck, he wouldn't be in the mood for dinner and then blamed me, never himself, for its lateness! I shouldered the blame for many failed duck plans.
The funniest duck episode was one evening when I was living at Glenden, a coal town west of Mackay in the coal-rich Bowen Basin. Once again, Graham arrived bearing a duck! Late afternoon, we sat out in my courtyard enjoying a few drinks, he beer and me red wine. The sun went down. The moon came up. The stars twinkled brilliantly. I'd prepared the duck with soy, ginger, garlic and honey. It was doing what it was supposed to be doing in the oven. Another drink or two, another hour or two, the night progressed as did the time. An argument started over the lateness "again" of my serving dinner. Of course, it wasn't his fault. Again, the problems of the world were mine to bear. Graham stormed off to bed and I muttered a suitable phrase under my breath. Deciding it was better to ignore his grumblings, I went to the kitchen, removed the duck from the oven. Placing it on a platter, I took it back out to the courtyard with me. Once there, I realised my wine glass was empty. Back to the kitchen I went for a refill and then I returned to the courtyard. The duck has disappeared! I heard a crunching sound coming from the far corner of the yard. There in all her glory was Missy, the cocker spaniel. Missy was my brother's dog but for the last five years of her life, she was in my care. Missy had spotted the duck and decided it was hers! Munching away gaily, Missy was having a wonderful time, thoroughly enjoying her special duck dinner!
I went into my brother's bedroom, shaking him on his shoulder, I said repeatedly, "The "expletive" dog is eating the "expletive" duck!" (The expletive sort of rhymed with "duck")
Graham proceeded to ignore my wails as I continued with the above expression, finally giving up on him, returning to my glass of wine, minus the duck! The next morning, he was hysterical with laughter, explaining he had heard me and had been giggling his heart out at my complaints, but had decided to ignore me as I rambled on. We laughed about that particular episode for years.
Spicy Sicilian Duck
1 (3-4 1/2-pound) duck, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, and patted dry
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium russet potatoes,peeled and cut into large cubes
2 capsicums/peppers, any color, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 celery, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
2 small eggplant, cut into large cubes
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
4 plum tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 cup Sicilian olives,pitted
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
5 dried hot chillies
1.5 cups dry red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 hot red pepper flakes
Season duck pieces with salt and pepper. In a 10 to 12-inch sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add pieces skin side down; brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; set aside.In same pan, combine potatoes, peppers, celery, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, olives, capers and chilies; cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine, return duck to pan, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover; cook until duck is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.Stir in mint, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Transfer stew to a large serving dish. Allow to cool to room temperature. Drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
2 cups roasted duck meat, cut into small pieces.
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp dried prawns/shrimp (available at Asian stores)
4 cups mung bean sprouts
1 stalk green shallot, cut into approximately the same length as the mung bean sprouts
Heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok. Use medium heat. While heating up the oil, de-bone the duck and cut the meat into bite size pieces. Keep the bones.When the oil is hot enough, add the roasted duck, minced garlic, ginger and dried prawn and stir fry until you smell the fragrance of the garlic and roasted duck.Add the mung bean sprouts and stir fry until the mung bean sprouts become translucent. If the mixture is too dry, add 1-2 tbsp of chicken broth.
Add shallots and toss with the rest of the cooked ingredients.
1/2 cup Sour Cherries
2 boneless whole duck breasts,(about 1 pound each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces red cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
4 red plums, pitted and cut into eighths
5 teaspoons sugar1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup ruby port
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar