If you’re looking for a spectacular dish to serve this holiday season, consider duck. Duck meat is recognized as one of the most richly flavored of the poultry meats, making it perfect for special celebrations. In addition, duck offers head to tail goodness with a large carcass for making rich brown stocks for soups or sauces, rendered fat to add flavor to scrambled eggs or fried potatoes and a delicate liver that can be turned into velvety smooth pâté. Serving up of a braised duck recipe instead of a roasted or sauteed recipes yields a do-ahead dish with the added advantage of tender succulent meat from breast to legs, making it perfect for any breed of duck whether your bird is homegrown, wild or from the supermarket.
This braised duck recipe borrows from the flavors and techniques of the Mediterranean with its braising liquid of tomatoes, red wine and fresh thyme. Browning the meat before simmering in liquid caramelizes the fat and juices creating an extra layer of flavor.
Braised Duck Recipe with Tomatoes and Olives
This hearty dish is perfect served with a large bowl of soft golden cornmeal polenta to accompany the rich red wine-tomato sauce that forms during braising.
1 (5 to 6 lb.) duck, cut into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
2/3 cup red wine
1-3/4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup homemade brown stock or lower-sodium beef broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Heat oven to 350°F. Using a small knife, pierce the skin of the duck all over (without piercing the meat) to help release the fat during browning.
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot; add oil and heat until hot. Brown duck in batches, 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Place duck in a large nonreactive Dutch oven or ovenproof pot.
Reserve 1 teaspoon duck fat in skillet; reserve remaining fat for another use or discard. Add garlic; cook over low heat for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Increase heat to high; add wine. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of skillet. Boil 1 minute; pour over duck in Dutch oven. Stir in tomatoes, stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring duck mixture to a boil; cover.
Bake 1 hour or until duck is tender. Using tongs, remove duck pieces to serving platter; loosely cover. Add olives to Dutch oven; stir in tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat; boil 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally (you will begin to see the bottom of the pan as you stir). Lightly spoon sauce over duck; pass remaining sauce.
Makes 4 servings
Have you tried this or similar braised duck recipes? Let us know how you liked it in the comments section.
Janice Cole is the author of Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes (Chronicle Books, 2011).
Originally published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Backyard Poultry.