Let’s begin with the food! Steve and I have at least one very grand meal of poultry each year.
We get our fowl from Michael Howard whose shop is conveniently located across the street from us.
The first was Caneton à l’Orange in 2009, for our first Christmas celebration in our Home. Steve cooked, using Julia Child’s classic recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, while I luxuriated in the bath tub. I emerged around the same time the duck came out of the oven.
Steve had prepared the sauce beforehand and it went to the table in about 3 minutes, very beautifully presented I might add.
Our great friends John and Jayne came for an Autumn weekend in 2010 and we roasted a goose for the occasion. They are pretty large birds, but the Michaelmas (Sept/Oct) goose is smaller than the Christmas goose and perfect for 4. They are quite fatty so a rack is essential. We collected and saved the goose fat for roast potatoes.
Goose is my favourite fowl. The flesh is very savoury and rich and the crisp skin is outstanding. I’ve only had it three times and look forward to the fourth.
We had a big Thanksgiving gathering in 2011.
Steve masterminded the bird. I’m always very impressed by his ability to wear a dress shirt whilst cooking and remain absolutely spotless.
This weekend, Jayne and John came to visit. We very nearly had goose again, but decided to make Pâté de Canard en Croûte, aka Boned Stuffed Duck Baked in a Pastry Crust. This is another recipe from Julia Child which you can find on pp. 571-6 in the aforementioned book.
First, we made a pork and veal farce, which is a meat mixture used as a base for paté. The pork gives flavour and the veal gives lightness. BTW, we use free-raised rose veal, from calves raised in the pasture and who have unlimited access to their mother’s milk and pasture grasses. Our butcher boned the duck, as we were too busy with other occupations to devote the necessary time and concentration to the task.
We haven’t a trussing needle, so I deftly tied and bound the stuffed skin with cook’s string.
I’m a dab hand at pastry making and had earlier prepared and chilled some pâte brisée. I did have a look at a few blog posts about this dish and I was dismayed to see that many cyberchefs merely dotted the pastry enrobed duck in circles of pastry, making it look like a polkadot clown shoe. I have some Autumn leaf pastry cutters in my batterie de cuisine and Steve used these shapes to decorate the croûte.
Prior to serving, we cut around the seam of the lid and lifted the meat out to remove the trussing string.
Although Julia Child recommends serving this chilled, we had it warm the first night with a salad of baby lettuce dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, Gorgonzola, pear and walnuts.
We had it chilled the following evening and we all felt that the flavours and texture of the pâte was much improved. Everyone asked me if I was going to blog about it. I said “I’m planning a post entitled ‘Duck, duck goose'”. “What is ‘Duck, duck, goose?” they asked.
One of the first games I learned when I was in kindergarten. Apparently it’s a North American game.
A group of players sit in a circle, facing inward, while another player, the “picker” (a.k.a. the “fox”), walks around tapping or pointing to each player in turn, calling each a “duck” until finally picking one to be a “goose”. The “goose” then rises and chases and tries to tag the “picker”, while the “picker” tries to return to and sit where the “goose” had been sitting. If the picker succeeds, the “goose” is now the new picker and the process begins again. If the “goose” succeeds in tagging the picker, the “goose” may return to sit in the previous spot and the “picker” resumes the process.