Christmas duck

After lengthy discussion and deliberation, Steve and I decided to have duck for our Christmas lunch and after finding a recipe for Duck à l’Orange in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I pretty much left Steve to it.  Oh, I julienned and blanched the orange peel, prepped the sprouts, sliced some onions and did a few other sous chef activities, but went and had a relaxing bath while Steve roasted the duck and made the sauce.

I did whip together some gougères which we had with some Prosecco just at the commencement of the lunch preparation.

Gougère

  • 1 cup/250 ml water
  • 6 tablespoons/90 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup/130 grams flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup/60 grams grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup/30 grams grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and cayenne pepper to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil untill the butter melts, then remove from heat.  Pour in the flour, beating for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to blend and bind the ingredients.  Return to medium-high heat and continue to beat vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and holds together, about 2 minutes.

Again, remove the saucepan from the heat.  Make a well in the center of the paste and break an egg into it.  Beat to incorporate the egg (I used an electric mixer).  Repeat until all 4 eggs have been added and the mixture has become a smooth paste.  Now mix in all of the Parmesan and half of the Gruyère.

Preheat an oven to 425°F/190°C.  Butter a baking sheet.  Fill a cup with hot water.  Dip a tablespoon first into the hot water and then into the pastry.  Using your finger, or another spoon, push the spoonful of pastry onto the baking sheet.  Repeat, spacing the puffs about 2 inches apart.  Using a pastry brush, coat only the top surface of each puff with the egg-water mixture.  Do not allow the gg mixture to dribble down the sides or it will bind the pastry to the baking sheet and prevent puffing.  Sprinkle each puff with a few shreds of the remaining Gruyère.

Bake until the puffs are golden brown and have doubled in size, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pierce each with a skewer to release the steam.  Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

What can I say about the duck a l’orange but that it was fabulous.  We got the bird from our butcher Michael Howard and Steve cooked it to perfection and presented it beautifully, along with brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and sausages wrapped in bacon. We had a lovely bottle of Viognier with the meal.

God bless us, every one!

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