So, I followed the lead of the other challengers and went on a quest to find a grocery store that sold duck and then got to thinking about how I was going to tackle ole Donnie the duck.
Truth be told, I have only had duck twice in my life. Once at a restaurant–which was pretty GOODe, but it was NOTHING compared to the first time I had it… which was amazing. Ya see, my first duck was actually prepared by and at Maple Leaf when I was visiting there a couple years ago. They prepared the most amazing spread of duck fixed every way imaginable. So, ya see, now my bar of duck expectations is a bit high… just sayin’
That trip to Maple Leaf was memorable for other reasons too… it was one of those cool moments in life where you realize you are right where you are meant to be…
Ya see, I grew up on a farm and at the time I worked for the Dept of Ag and had the awesome opportunity that summer to tour tons of Indiana farms with my then boss (and mentor and friend), Anne
. I had always loved agriculture and the impact that growing up on the farm had on my work ethic and world view, however, I couldn’t say that I was passionate about where our food came from. Honestly, like many folks, it never occurred to me to be passionate about it…
But then I went to Maple Leaf that day with Anne and several other folks that would later become GOODe friends of mine.
After a long drive and not much to eat on my part, Anne and I arrived and we headed straight to the building where we toured how they evaluate and test the duck feed precisely for proper nutrition. As we stood there, I began to get light headed. I tried to fight it off, but I could reason with it… after a trip to the restroom to splash water on my face, I stood by my new boss and within minutes I PASSED OUT!
Dude… talk about embarrassed. I was MORTIFIED!
Everyone in the group was so great. They took care of me–got me juice– and never made a big deal of the silly woman who fainted… instead we got down to the business of learning all there was to know about ducks.
Anyhoo, I am not sure if it was my little episode or what, but the rest of the day I felt like I had bonded with the folks there and was able to really get to know them. I walked away inspired. Inspired by their passion for what they do… from the people handling the feed to the folks in charge of bio-security to the owners of the company. Excellence was their passion and it was contagious.
That day was the seed that was watered by trips to Liberty Swine Farms
and Red Gold
and grew into a great pride for what the American Farmer does for us each day… and a passion that is still going strong to assist farmers in telling their story.
So, when Ott, A. announced she was doing a Iron Chef Challenge with Maple Leaf
, I was totally game–despite my novice duck cooking level.
Ok, so now back to Donnie the Duck… I first thought I’d roast him…
But then I thought about when I had duck and it was very much like uber-good dark meat chicken. (I am sure some duck connoisseurs out there just died at that statement… but hey… I heart dark meat and that is what it tasted like to me).
So, I decided to adapt my favorite chicken thigh recipe and see what would happen… but first, Puddie needed to cut up ole Donnie for me… So, he went to Maple Leaf’s site and found this awesome video that showed him just what to do…
And with just a few easy cuts…
We had two breasts and two quarters trimmed and ready for some stuffing!
Meanwhile, I whipped up the Italian Stuffing Mixture from our Italian Stuffed Chicken recipe…
1 Cup Mozzarella
1 Cup Ricotta
1/2 Cup Fresh Grated Parm
1 Cup Sauteed Mushrooms
1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Dried Parsley
Salt & Pepper to Taste
NOTE: Stuffing mixture is enough to do several ducks or sets of duck breasts.
Then I took each piece of duck and pull the skin gently away from the meat, leaving one side in tact.
NOTE: I should have scored the skin after this step to make it crisper.
Then I stuffed those little pockets full of my mixture…
And then placed it on a rack over top of one of my 9 x13 pans (to allow the fat to run off of pieces as they cooked).
Then I sprinkled with paprika
And baked it at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.
NOTE: Breasts will cook faster than the quarters so you need to pull the breasts and allow the quarters to finish cooking.
Now we need to get to making the AMAZING sauce…
I changed this up from my old recipe… and I loved the old one, but this new one is officially my favorite sauce. Love, Love, LOVE it! Heart it even!!
I took 1 T of Olive Oil
Pressed several cloves of garlic into the hot oil
And then tossed in a couple shallots that I coarsely chopped… because let’s be honest coarsely is the only way I chop… just sayin’
Once that got nice and tender, I threw in a jar of my canned crushed tomatoes from my canning stash
Then a 6 oz can of tomato paste
About a 1/2 cup of fresh parsley-chopped
And 1/2 cup of fresh basil-chopped and salt and pepper to taste. Stir it up and let it simmer and thicken…
By now Ole Donnie should be done…
Serve him up over a bed of pasta with your fabulous sauce…
Or, slice up one of the breasts for a picture perfect plate.