Taking on the Mammoth Duck

Since time immemorial, giant duck-related creatures have rumbled through the valleys and over the hills of the Greater Daglan Area. There was Triduckotrops of course,  and Canardasaurus Rex, and even the Greater Wooly Mammoth Duck. Okay, I’m making up that part. But boy, do they ever grow large ducks in this neck of the woods.

The latest evidence? My wife Jan had found a “simplified” (ha ha) recipe for Peking Duck, that classic Chinese dish we all love, featuring deeply roasted, heavily laquered duck, served in two or three ways — breast meat sliced onto little pancakes with hoisin sauce and green onions; Rainbow Chop in Crystal Fold (chopped duck meat and vegetables served on crisp lettuce leaves with yet more hoisin sauce); and possibly duck soup.

Could we find a duck to roast? Are you kidding — how could we avoid it? They’re everywhere.

On Saturday, when Jan put her chosen creature on the conveyor belt of our supermarket in Gourdon, I said: “Why did you pick a goose? I thought you wanted a duck for the Peking Duck.” “That,” she replied, “is a duck. It was the smallest one they had.”

And so that evening, she began the recipe by coating the duck with a mix of exotic spices, wrapping it in cling film, and putting it in our spare refrigerator to develop its flavours overnight. While the recipe called for a four-pound duck, ours was four kilos — or more than twice the size suggested (nearly nine pounds, in fact). And here it is on Sunday morning, still wearing its cling film wrap (the coffee cup is in the photo to give you an idea of the duck’s size):

Coated duck

After an all-night "bath" in spices. Coffee cup added to show size of the beast.

With its spicy flavours developed, our duck was put into a pan at about 10 a.m. on Sunday, to be steamed for two hours:

Ready for steaming

All set for steaming.

Once the duck was well cooked in its steam bath, Jan roasted it in a very hot oven, glazing it with a sweet sauce and yet more spices. And here’s the mammoth duck, ready to be carved:

Roasted duck

Roasted, glazed, and ready to be carved.

We began with the sliced breast meat served on rather large French crêpes made of sarrasin (buckwheat) flour, because Jan has an allergy to the gluten in regular wheat products. Then we moved on to our version of Rainbow Chop in Crystal Fold:

Rainbow chop

Chopped duck meat, simmered with veggies, served with plum sauce on lettuce.

So, was that the end of it? Nope.

For dinner on Sunday evening, we had several more of the Rainbow Chop in Crystal Fold lettuce leaves. And then today, for lunch, Jan used the remaining duck meat to make a very large shepherd’s pie — a mix of duck in a rich gravy with carrots and peas, topped with mashed potatoes and browned under the broiler. Quite delicious.

And finally, that’s it. The mammoth duck is no more.

This entry was posted in Flora and fauna, French food, Life in southwest France. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Taking on the Mammoth Duck

  1. Lesley says:

    If shepherd’s pie is usually lamb, cottage pie with beef then, from henceforth, I shall know duck meat to make canadian pie. Thanks for the inspiration to ‘do’ other things with the ever ubiquitous duck here in the Dordogne.

  2. Loren says:

    Thanks Lesley. “Canadian pie” it is! (Although that would not be a popular name in Quebec, where the “national” pie is tourtière…A delicious double-crusted pie, always with pork and often including some other minced meats, like beef.)

  3. foodtable says:

    Wow, that is a huge duck! So creative of you guys to make this into several dishes. Looks yummy!

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