I forgot to wish my readers (all 12 or so of you - according to google analytics) a Happy New Year.
Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed a pleasant holiday and that 2010 is filled with great many things for all of you.
M and I aren't big into Christmas being neither terribly religious or gifty. We do give each other gifts but just not on days that card and candy companies suggest that we do. (I like to think that M gives me presents all the time whether it's a great new place he's found to go for a hike that he wants to surprise me, or fun dvd he's been saving up for the perfect evening that he knows I'll enjoy.) We like to keep things simple and Christmas is no exception.
Then again, the one thing that I've been consistent with for Christmas nearly every year is cooking an elegant meal for the two of us. Ahem. Yes. I like to cook something complicated on the day we dedicate to keeping it simple. That's me.
This year I had grandiose plans to cook a herb-rubbed tuck with a tart cherry sauce. I've only cooked duck once before. It came out pretty good I thought. But the recipe I had in mind to make for Christmas was pretty fussy and involved (3 hours to make a stock anyone?) and at the end of the day, I was too tired and pregnant to take on said duck. But there it was sitting in my fridge. It had to get made. So I looked for a simpler recipe and cooked it for our Christmas meal. The sides are also sort of hodge-podgey. A medley of things that I had left in the fridge that needed to be cooked up or thrown out. Somehow, it resulted in a pretty decent meal.
I gotta say that I'm still not a huge fan of duck. I always thought it was because whenever we order it at a restaurant, we go for the budget-foodie version. Meaning we don't order duck from some fancy french restaurant (we rarely eat out at fancy french restaurants). We order it from the divey chinese joint in our neighborhood. Some people will argue with me but I can tell the difference in taste when I eat an organic free-range hormone and antibiotic-free locally farmed chicken versus a Big Poultry company bird.
I'm a firm believer in eating the best quality foods that you can afford. Sometimes I go a little over budget with my food budget because I want the best quality food item, budget be damned. So I always figured that the duck we ordered at restaurants weren't always the best quality (wild, freshly harvested, heritage duck anyone?) and that this might contribute to the taste.
But the bird I got for Christmas was a pretty good quality bird. And I think I did a decent job of cooking it. And I'm still not won over. The sauce I could get behind. And so a sliver of duck meat with lots and lots of sauce is the only way I was able to enjoy my duck. Regardless, it was still a nice meal. And my Christmas gift to M. He loves duck. He loved Christmas dinner. We had a good time.
Random: Looking at this photo I'm thinking that I should look for cream colored dishes with less graphics on them. When I plated the duck, I lamented how the pattern on the plate took away from the presentation.
The recipe for the duck I made is here. I made a few changes like I didn't have prunes so I used the dried tart cherries I'd bought for the other recipe instead. Also, I've always heard that the best thing about a roast duck is the crispy skin. I had a beautiful crisp skin going on with my bird but the directions told me to flip it over and let it sit breast (crispy) side down for 20 minutes. Of course once the 20 minutes were up the beautiful crispy skin was all soggy. Bummer!
Here's the duck I was gonna make if I had more time and wasn't so tired.