Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roast Duck

Here in the Ozarks, the late Fall grocery store stock up includes frozen ducks. When they arrive, I usually buy two or three to go in my freezer. Nancy and I absolutely love duck. While we lived in London we bought a Gressingham duck from a meat monger at Borough market, a twice weekly outdoor market at the Borough underground stop. That duck became our gold standard - free ranged, fresh slaughtered, never frozen, and a good two pounds heavier than what we can get here. If we could find something similar here, we would have duck at least once a month.

For this article I thought I would give you a photo essay on spatchcocking a duck and roasting it.

Roast Duck Preparation

Thaw your duck on a plate in the refrigerator for three days. The plate will catch juices if they leak from the plastic bag.

Remove the duck and remove the neck and organs from the cavity. While you are doing so, remove and throw away the disgusting orange sauce packet.

Dry the bird and grab a small sharp knife and your poultry shears. Relatively easy dissection awaits.

The first step is to remove the wishbone. On a duck the shape is slightly different from a chicken or turkey and the bone itself is larger and stronger. Use the small knife to cut the flesh from the wishbone, both inside and outside the inverted V. On ducks I find it easiest the free the point of the V and pull it down to lever the tips out. This is the exact reverse of what works best on a chicken.

Once the wishbone is out, use the shears to remove the wing tips, the tail, and the huge amount of fat and skin around the cavity opening by the tail. During processing, the processors may have left a long tail of neck skin. That goes too. Everything you remove goes into a stock pot with a large onion, a stalk of celery, a carrot, a bay leaf, and some parsley. The duck stock and duck fat are worth their weight in gold later.

Turn the duck over and use the shears to cut the spine from the carcass.

Open the bird and begin to remove any bits left during the original processing.

Using the small sharp knife, split the keel bone cartilage down the middle lengthwise.

Generously salt and pepper the now flat cavity and invert the bird onto a wire rack over a sheet pan.

When I can, I do these preparation steps in advance and put the pan with rack, uncovered, in the refrigerator for several hours to air dry.

When the time comes for roasting, set the oven shelf to the middle and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Pierce the duck skin, but not the meat, many times to aid in reducing the fat and browning the skin. [If you are lazy like I am, you can use a sharp knife to slash the skin instead.] Spray the bird surface with spray olive oil to help the browning. Season the top of the bird as you desire (I usually use salt and pepper only). Roast for 10 minutes at the scorching temperature and then reduce to oven to 375 degrees. Roast an additional 30 to 40 minutes. You want the legs and thigh meat to reach 155 degrees. The breast, which is thicker when you spatchcock, will be a lesser temperature. Tent with foil and rest 10 to 20 minutes. The temperature will rise to the 160 degrees recommended by the FDA.

[Do NOT Try This At Home Note: I do not target the FDA recommended temperature. Duck does not carry as high a risk for salmonella as chicken. I risk a slightly lower temperature to have some pink left in the breast.]

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Spot of Breakfast

Eggs in Salsa for Two

I absolutely love biscuits with sausage gravy or several pieces of bacon with eggs fried over easy in the bacon fat, especially with buttered toast to sop up the runny yolks. However, just admitting this means another lecture from Dr. Kresse.

The picture above features eggs, yes, but with less fat and a ton of flavor.


4 large or extra large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups chunky salsa (your choice of heat level)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar jack
minced cilantro for garnish
salt and pepper to taste


Pour the salsa into a 10 inch non-stick skillet. Place over medium heat.

As the salsa heats to a boil, carefully crack the eggs and put one egg each in four coffee cups or mise en place bowls. Salt and pepper each egg.

When the salsa is boiling and half of the runny liquid has evaporated,  use a wooden spatula and push the salsa away from an edge of the pan. Slide one egg into the temporary empty place.  Repeat at the other compass points for the remaining eggs.

Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the skillet for 4 minutes.

Sprinkle shredded cheese over each egg and replace the lid. Cook an additional three minutes. On my stove top, that formula results in melted cheese, cooked whites, and a runny yolk. You may have to adjust the timing to your stove and your preference of done yolks.

Serve with the hot salsa and garnished with minced cilantro.

Have a great morning.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cold Comfort, Really

Hot Dog Casserole

When the weather turns cold, everybody thinks in terms of a hot meal featuring some favorite comfort food. At our house in the Ozarks, that means I trot out an old favorite, hot dog casserole.


1 package hot dogs, sliced in 1 inch lengths (Nueskes, Nathans, Hebrew National)
4 to 5 cups sliced russet potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 to 2 cups drained sauerkraut
1 Tablespoon caraway seed
salt and pepper

Optional: 6 white mushrooms, sliced and sauteed


Preheat the oven to 350degrees.

Steam the potatoes until not quite done and remove from the heat to cool. Mix the other ingredients with two thirds of the cheese in a large bowl to combine. Salt and pepper the cooled potatoes heavily and add them to the mixture. Toss the potatoes with the mixture and turn the result out into a 9 X 13 casserole dish.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole and bake on the middle shelf, uncovered, for 45 minutes. The cheese should be beginning to brown and the dish should be bubbling.