Enjoy some Duck for dinner

Have you ever wanted to taste something you haven’t tasted before? Some may wait until they go to a restaurant in hopes of having it perfectly prepared for them and that they fall in love with it. Others like to challenge their taste buds to be on top of latest trends and try the latest flavours. I think I do a little bit of it all, while taking into account the classic dishes that help many chefs get to that level of creativity. The best part about all this food and tasting is that we can do it all here with local ingredients.

We have such amazing local products in Ontario that you can tempt your taste buds easily with a variety of flavours and textures. Going out to search for something a little different just means a walk to the market or a drive to a local grocery store, and in many cases your own backyard! Right now as we wait for spring to arrive, it is still nice to snuggle into a blanket on the couch and watch a movie or read a book while wafts of wonderful aromas leave our kitchens and fill our homes. Homey dishes that are simmering or stewing away help build flavour and texture into a dish which makes us fall in love with them. Comfort foods can bring those latest trends and also include things we haven’t tasted before. Duck is not something that I have cooked at home often, I didn’t grow up with it but it fit the bill for this feeling of comfort food. Something a little different, local and comforting.

For 60 years, King Cole, a family run business in Ontario has given us local ducks that are found in the freezer section of some grocery stores and given chefs and home cooks alike the ability to cook something different and “You’ve Got to Try the duck” as they suggest. I have had the opportunity to work with them to create some tasty recipes with duck to bring out my creative flavours and try something different. For me it was a wonderful experience to introduce it to my family and friends and have them try something new and enjoy those flavours that I wasn’t sure would work, but I was assured after tasting they certainly did.

Many people compare duck to chicken and in its physical looks it is a good comparison but truly different as I find the flavour of the duck to be meatier but just as easy to use. The duck legs are a favourite for many chefs to make duck confit, a rich and tasty dish of duck legs cooked in duck fat to produce a luscious culinary dish. For me cooking with duck is an opportunity to try something new and bring out a comfort dish that I grew up with too. Sometimes its nice to step out of your comfort zone to get a little comfort food.

Duck Cacciatore

This classic flavoured stew known as “hunter’s stew” offers up chunky pieces of vegetables and duck that will become a favourite for all your guests. Serve this dish with fettuccine pasta or mashed potatoes to soak up the rich tomato sauce.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 King Cole whole duck, about 5 lbs/2.5 kg

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb (500 g) button mushrooms, quartered

1 each red and green bell peppers, chopped

1 tbsp (15 mL) dried oregano

1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil

1/2 cup (125 mL) dry red wine

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes

1. Trim excess skin and fat from duck and reserve for another use. Cut duck into 6 pieces and remove backbone for another use. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over duck pieces. Heat large shallow Dutch oven over medium high heat and brown duck on both sides. Remove to plate. Remove all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the rendered fat in the saucepan.

2. In same pot, over medium high heat, cook onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, oregano and basil for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to brown. Pour in wine and stir vegetables to deglaze pan. Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Return duck to pot. Reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until duck is falling off the bone. Uncover and cook for 15 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tip: Look for the whole duck in the freezer section of the grocery store and let thaw completely in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before using.

Check out the video I did on how to cut the duck into pieces at www.kingcoleducks.com


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