“You really must do something with that duck,” said the husband. We don’t keep ducks ourselves, but one of his workmates had presented him with a plucked & dressed duck, a month or so back, & it had been sitting in the freezer ever since. A Muscovy duck – in other words, a Very Big Quacker indeed. So I took it out to defrost overnight, & considered what to do with it.
Because I wasn’t too sure how old the bird had been when it met its maker, I was already leaning towards slow cooking, rather than the roast the husband fancied. And when I inspected the body I found very little fat on it, so that settled things – dinner was definitely going to be slow-cooked duck.
Now, I have a large oval slow-cooker, but this duck was too big to fit in whole (which was one of the options I’d considered). So I jointed it: 2 legs, 2 big meaty wings, 2 biiiiig breasts – each cut into two pieces, & a few bits & pieces. But before I began wrestling with the bird, I sliced 2 onions thinly & set them to cook gently in a little butter in a heavy-based pan. Once they’d begun to go translucent I spread them over the base of the cooker bowl and covered them with a layer of sliced oranges (skin on), added a bit more butter to the pan, & browned the portions of duck, a few pieces at a time.
I arranged the meat on top of the onion/orange layers, and in among the pieces of duck I tucked a dozen whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks (broken in half), & 3 bay leaves off the tree in our courtyard. The rest of the orange slices – I used 3 oranges in all – went around and atop the meat. Because meat that’s touching the sides of the cooker bowl can be a bit overdone if you don’t watch it, I made sure to tuck some of the slices twixt duck & bowl. And then I poured 500ml of chicken stock over everything, put the lid on the cooker, & set it to low before leaving it to simmer gently for 6-7 hours.
It smelled divine!
In the last hour of cooking, I roasted some spuds and pumpkins (yes, plural – we grew a small variety of pumpkin this year) & made a salad with thinly-sliced red onion, another orange (ditto) & lettuce. The final step before serving was to remove the meat from the cooker & strain the juices to remove all the bits & pieces, before thickening them with a little cornflour to make a sauce.
The husband has been asked if there might be another duck in the offing 🙂