Friday, December 29, 2006

French Christmas

Still sick of turkey from Thanksgiving and not in the mood for ham, I decided on something different this year for Christmas. Canard a L'Orange, courtesy of Ms. Julia Child! I know....fabulous, right?! An exotic animal (come ain't chicken) with a fruity gravy...this was a sure thing.

I planned on making Julia proud, too, so I read and re-read the recipe, plotting out a schedule of preparations to be made. The day before, I took the neck, heart, wing-tips, etc. from the duck and carefully prepared the 2 cups of stock needed to make the a L'Orange. Christmas morning I took out the duck so it would be room temperature by the time I was ready to put it in the oven. I then carefully peeled the orange skin from 4 oranges, using a vegetable peeler, and carefully cut them into a fine julienne, just as Julia instructed. I seasoned the duck, trussed the duck and then stabbed it all over it's bottom three quarters to allow for proper drainage of the fat as it cooked. (I had NO idea ducks had that much fat on them. Now I don't feel so bad.)

Here's where things got crazy. I'm roasting the duck, I'm preparing the stock and the other sauce ingredients so that they're ready for the pan drippings (sans fat) as soon as the duck is done, and I'm getting the shoestring potatoes ready for the oven, so they can go in as soon as the duck comes out. There was a lot going on, but it was all clicking, until.....

I took the duck out of the oven and what had once been a 4.5 lb plumped up fowl, was now something more akin to that skinny chicken from Saturday morning cartoons. (You know the one...he was the 90lb weakling next to that big cock, Foghorn Leghorn.) Now, according to Ms. Child, this was supposed to feed 4-5 people and the only side dish was to be sauteed or shoestring potatoes, due to the already intricate pallet of flavors. By the time the second plate had been served, both breasts were gone and we were down to scavenging scraps off the carcass for J and I. (Thank god we served our guests, first.)

I don't know who Julia was trying to kid. I've seen pictures, and she's a big girl. I know she didn't make this recipe and serve 4-5 people, unless three of them were vegetarians.

Anyhoo. The reviews of the meal were good, from those who had the "real" parts of the duck. I, however, will not be traveling down that road again. Still luv ya, Jules!

ps: I was in such shock at the sight of my shrunken bird that I forgot to take a picture to post. Probably better to block out the memory, anyway.


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