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
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
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.