Duck, Duck…Goose?

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It’s duck season in France.  In preparation for the foie gras feasts that will celebrate the end of the year holidays, the shops are full of other parts of the fattened ducks.  And happily, they’re finding their way into my kitchen, where a sudden surfeit of duck is an entirely new experience.

Having had the infinite good sense to bring Paula Wolfert’s wonderful book The Cooking of Southwest France with me in my already-too-heavy luggage, I decided to make her recipe for Casserole of Moulard Duck Breasts with Potatoes as Prepared in the Region of the Bigorre.  The delightful result is as you see it, rare duck breast over silky potatoes and onions, with some of Alice’s sweet and tender romanesco broccoli on the side..  I deviated from the recipe only by using my infamous ham instead of the ventreche the recipe calls for, but I think Paula would forgive me that small transgression.  If you have the book, be sure to try this recipe.  If you don’t have the book, put it at the top of your holiday gift lift.  It’s a great companion, at home or abroad.

A little starter

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of puff pastry stuffed with brandade de morue (here’s where I learned that although you can buy brandade in jars in the store, you really shouldn’t) and piquillo peppers, with a salad of mache and walnut oil, got the dinner off to a nice start.  It would have been nicer if I’d taken the two days to make my own brandade, which I will absolutely do from here on out.  But at least the puff was all butter, which is miraculously available, precut into appetizer-sized squares, in every grocery store here.

And although we had to wait to recover even a trace of appetite, the dessert of

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a ripe Chaumes with chestnut bread and fig conserve made a perfect ending to the wintery meal.

But, oddly, I haven’t seen any goose at all yet.  I need to go on a goose chase.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

5 Comments on “Duck, Duck…Goose?”

  1. MickeyM Says:

    I love duck. Wish I were there. Especially since it snowed today.

    Could you share the recipe for the chestnut bread? It sounds intriguing.

  2. Abra Says:

    Please don’t hate me when I tell you that there’s a bakery literally next door to us, and it’s they who make the chestnut bread. But I think you could use a recipe for a yeasted walnut bread, substitute maybe 1/6 of the flour with chestnut flour, and add in crumbled chestnuts instead of the walnuts. Or you could just come visit. But hurry, they only make it in chestnut season.

  3. Heinz Says:

    I think goose is sold out at the moment. Two seasonal weekends have passed yet. The “fête patronale” on the third sunday in October and St. Martin from Tours on the 11th of November and on both days goose dishes are traditional. I don’t know whether these days are celebrated in France like in Germany but there is a lot of demand for in European countries. Next season for Goose is the christmas week may be you’ll be successful then. On the other hand look for a breader and place an order. Your duck breast looks terriffic. How did you prepare it? Slowly roasted on the skin side to melt the skinfat and than for some minutes into the oven at 160°C?

  4. Abra Says:

    The duck is cooked in an unusual way. You score the fat and put it over a medium heat (fat side down) for just about 4 minutes, spooning off the fat as it renders out, until the fat is caramelized brown. Turn the breasts over and lightly sear the meat side, then remove from the pan and tent with foil. Let the duck rest for about half an hour while you make the potatoes and onions. Just before serving you slice the duck, which has cooked a little more while tented but is still very rare, and set the slices on top of the cooked potatoes. Over a high heat, cover the pan and cook for only 2-3 minutes, just really to get the duck hot through but leave it rare.

    It,s a great technique because the juices from the sliced duck end up in the potatoes underneath.


  5. […] reduced prices afterwards.  We managed to make it through to the new year, mostly reveling in foie gras by products while eating little of the actual foie itself.    But now, when all of the foie gras […]


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