I originally created this recipe for One Bad Apple. It was my homage to one of my favorite restaurants in Amherst, where I've eaten many times. The restaurant is authentically French, which explains the slightly hifalutin ingredients. Duck? Peppercorns?
I'll admit it's not always easy to find a duck to cook. Usually they're frozen, and often when you defrost them you find they're more fat than meat. Sometimes I think about asking a neighbor to go out and shoot one for me, but then I'd have to deal with cleaning out the innards and getting rid of the feathers and feet and head and stuff…no, I guess I'll stick with the commercial ducks.
Luckily our local market has been stocking frozen duck parts for a while now. The front quarters are expensive, but the back quarters (thigh and leg) I think are meatier and more flavorful. And since there are only two of us living at home now, it's easier to make only two pieces and not have to worry about using up leftover duck (which can be kind of greasy).
So here's the simplified version of my recipe:
Duck with Apples and Green Peppercorns
Two duck quarters, thawed
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium tart apple
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 Tblsp preserved green peppercorns
½ cup cider (fresh or hard)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cider vinegar
With a sharp knife, score the skin and fat of the duck pieces without cutting into the flesh. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then place the duck pieces skin side down to sear. Do not move them for 4-5 minutes.
|Ready for the oven|
Remove the pieces from the pan and place them on a rack over a roasting pan (cover the pan, not the rack, with foil, if you don't want to deal with all the duck fat that will be rendered). Place in a preheated 300 degree oven and roast for about 45 minutes. It really may take this long; test with an instant-read thermometer, which should register 165 degrees, and the blood should run clear when you pierce the thigh.
While the duck pieces are in the oven, make the sauce. Core but do not peel the apple (I used a Cortland, which is a good all-purpose apple) and slice thinly (about 1/8 of an inch: the peel keeps the slices from disintegrating when you cook them). In the pan you used to sauté the duck pieces (with the olive oil and duck fat), place the apples and peppercorns and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden (about 5 minutes). Add the shallots and rosemary and continue cooking, stirring, until the shallots are soft (another 2 minutes). Add the cider and increase the heat until the sauce is simmering, then simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the honey and cider vinegar and simmer for another minute. Taste for seasoning and add salt if you think it needs it.
Serve the duck pieces and spoon the apples and sauce over them. I accompanied the duck with new fingerling potatoes.