Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pate de Canard en Croute--the Trilogy; Part II--Stuffed Duck

So here is where we left off:


Cognac, Truffles, and Port, oh my!
One poor flattened duck.  Time to plumb him up again, but like every step in this interminable recipe, this won't be easy.  Step one.  Marinate him overnight in some port, cognac, and truffles.   Yes--truffles, rhymes with "ruffles," but whereas Ruffles are cheap deep fat fried potato parts that can be found in every grocery store in most of the developed world, "truffles" are an incredibly expensive and exceedingly rare mushroom.  They're expensive because little old Frenchmen have to scour the Alsatian forests for years before they can ever find them, and when they do, they keep the knowledge of their location sacrosanct for generations.  I think that World War I was actually started by a Frenchmen who discovered a German stealing his truffles--or perhaps it was the other way around, but either way, a truffle is not something to be trifled with, and you need them for this recipe. 

Step Two.  Mix together 3/4 lb each of lean veal, pork, and pork fat. That's right sports fan--3/4  of a pound of  pure unadulterated, no preservatives added pork fat.  You should see the butchers at Wegman's go into a huddle as they ponder the mystery of the crazy chick in front of the counter who's not only asking for a pound of pork fat but who's also apparently willing to pay for it.  Even though they practically pulled it out of the trash, they still managed to charge me two bucks for it.

Empty Duck
So here we go.  Kind of like plumping up those furry little critters at Build-a-Bear workshop, we're going to stuff a duck.  Pull your marinating, but as yet empty duck, out of the refrigerator.  Lay him out. 

Step Three.   Take the mixture of veal, pork, and pork fat and mound it into the duck shell.  (I was going to say "duck carcass", but that's so unappetizing).  At this point it looks like a giant elongated meatball sitting on top of the duck.

Step Four.  For those of you (like me) that hated home economics because of the sewing part, this next step might well send you over the edge.  Take a giant coat needle, thread it with kitchen string and without tearing the duck's tender outer skin, stitch the whole thing up.    

The Eye of the Needle
   Important tip:  make sure that the tip of your needle is really sharp, or you will simply shred the duck's skin, and for this recipe to be successful, the duck and pate have to be fully encapsulated in the duck skin.  I obtained a needle that had been dutifully sharpened on a whet stone.  (Again, see this blog "Getting Started in the Kitchen"; Feb. 2011).  It worked like a charm.

Step Five.  Our poor non-feathered friend has now suffered the indignations of being deboned, marinated, chilled, and stitched.  Now it's time to crisp up his skin.   Stuff him into a pan, heat him up, and turn every few minutes.  And be not mistaken, that's pure molten butter he's bathing in.

We're not done yet, but we're close.  Because this is a trilogy (and you thought Star Wars would never end), next installment we wrap him in homemade dough, bake, and dare I say it?  Eat him.  Stay tuned.

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