sliced done
Magrets de canard

It’s still too hot to cook. The temperatures have settled into the upper 80s/low 90s for highs, and mid-60s for lows. Clear blue skies, no humidity. Pretty fabulous, but with no air conditioning it’s grilling weather.

in pkgOne of the Carnivore’s favorite food groups is duck. But we had a near catastrophe trying to grill duck the first time. Duck breasts have a thick layer of fat on one side. Usually, you score the fat and it melts into the skillet. (This is considered a good thing.) On the grill, however, the fat caused huge flames. A guest suggested catching the drippings with foil. The foil quickly filled up, and we were faced with trying to get a flimsy pool of boiling grease off the fire.

whole underside
Duck breasts all in a row
whole fat
Fat side

The Carnivore very much liked the idea of grilling duck and was determined to make it work. He started trimming off the fat. Not all of it–it’s there for flavor after all–but just enough to avoid flames. This is the result:

raw trimmed

whole done
And cooked

In the decade since he adopted this method, it has worked very well. He likes his duck cooked rosé–medium. And usually serves it with honey. Very easy, very French.

honeyWe also had ratatouille niçoise. While the traditional way is to cook the vegetables slowly for a long time, I like to cook them separately, very quickly, then mix and serve. Ratatouille works fine at room temperature, if you want to make it ahead.

ratatouilleRatatouille niçoise

1 eggplant, in half-inch cubes

1 onion, halved and sliced very thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 red peppers (or one red, one green), diced or sliced

2-3 big tomatoes, in inch cubes

3 small zucchini, in half-inch cubes

herbes de provence, salt, pepper, olive oil

Salt the eggplant and put it in a strainer.

In a nice, big frying pan or even a le Creuset style Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil, until they become transparent. Add the peppers and let them cook until a little soft. Throw in the tomatoes and a tablespoon or so of herbes de provence.

Set aside those veggies in a big bowl. Add more olive oil to the pan and sauté the zucchini. I do it pretty fast, just so it gets brown on most sides. Add to the veggie bowl.

Rinse the eggplant then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add more olive oil to the pan and sauté the eggplant, again until most sides get brown. Put all the veggies back into the pan. Stir, so the tomato juices deglaze the bottom of the pan. I like to cook off the juice as much as possible, but it kind of depends on the tomatoes. Some are awfully juicy!

I don’t add salt and pepper until the end, because sometimes the eggplant retains more or less salt.

rata closeLeftovers freeze very nicely for later. With added tomato sauce, it also makes a nice pasta sauce.

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Ducks in a Row

    1. Be sure to trim the fat! Other common duck companions include fruit-based sauces. For example, I’ll reduce some chopped up fruits (nectarines, cherries, peaches, whatever is on hand) in some wine and chicken stock and at the end add a little cornstarch dissolved in more wine, or a mix of wine and worcestershire sauce to thicken it. Yummy with duck.

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  1. We used a new electric BBQ for the first time with a duck breast and the skin & fat stripped like you showed. It worked a treat. The trimmings were used in a pan to sauté the potatoes.

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    1. That’s a brilliant idea to use the trimmings to cook the potatoes. I am not going to tell the Carnivore because he would certainly do it and it would require so much exercise to burn off!!!

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  2. Duck is one of my favorite meats as well. Yum! I never eat it here in the States though. Only in France.
    I made some grilled veggies yesterday, but I guess they don’t count as ratatouille since there was no eggplant — onions, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms. I planned to cook once and make it last the week as university starts again this week and I have 7 classes to teach, but my youngest stopped by to join us. I’d rather have him here than leftovers anyway.

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    1. I love grilled vegetables, but the Carnivore, who is also Master of the Grill, considers them a lamentable waste of charcoal. I need to grill up a batch of peppers to make more romesco sauce.

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