A few years ago, I wouldn't eat duck if you paid me to. I hated that chefs "strongly suggested" it be served rare, and I always thought it tasted "gamey". One Sunday morning, I was reading Amanda Hesser's column in the New York Times Sunday magazine. She was describing a dinner that was prepared by her (at the time) future mother-in-law, Elizabeth. The main course was Ginger Duck. She described the meat as "succulent, with a heady infusion of soy, sherry, ginger and onions.", and the skin as, "deeply caramelized and crisp". The duck was so tender, it nearly fell apart while being carved. It was served with a glistening rice that had been cooked in the broth that had been made while braising the duck. "The long, plump grains had soaked up the fragrant broth and were glazed with duck fat," is how Amanda rice was described. Let's put aside the fact that I wish I could describe food like Amanda Hesser....my mouth began to water imagining this dish! I ripped out the page containing the menu for the entire meal (the duck, the rice, shredded carrots and parsnips and an almond cake for dessert), along with every recipe, and started making my shopping list. It was then that I realized the duck is a two day process, so I would have to be patient. We wouldn't be having Ginger Duck that night.
I made Elizabeth's dinner a few nights later. To say that I was proud of myself would be an understatement. That was when I realized I can cook anything I wanted to. All you need is a recipe, and the desire to experiment. Had I thought about it long enough, I probably would have talked myself out of preparing this meal, ("too much work; it's too hard; too much cleanup; what if I ruin it; wait, don't I hate duck?"). I had never cooked a duck before, never baked an almond cake before (I will post that recipe at a later date), never even used the shredding disk on my food processor before, and never tasted a parsnip. But the meal sounded so good, I had to try it, and I wanted to make it for my family, and have them try it. No one else was going to do it for me. It turns out that Phil loved the duck so much, he ate the entire duck in one sitting (really..he did...it's a legend in our family!). The duck was amazing. My kids were little at the time, and I had fed them early so Phil and I could have a quiet, adult dinner, so if they had tasted it at the time, they don't remember. When I made it last week, Jamie turned her nose up at it, claiming it was gross, and that she does NOT eat duck! That was fine...more duck for Phil, Joey and me (BTW...Joey thought the duck was awesome!).
If you are having more than 4 people to dinner, I suggest making 2 ducks. The recipe doubles very easily.
To make the rice, melt 4 T. butter in a medium saucepan. Add in 1 large minced onion and 1 minced clove of garlic. Saute a few minutes. Pour in 1 cup of rice. Stir until rice turns golden (add more butter if you need to). Add 2 c. defatted ginger duck broth (recipe above) and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 16 to 20 minutes. Remove lid, allow rice to dry, and season with salt and pepper. This will serve 4. I also suggest doubling the rice recipe. Everyone loves the rice, and it will go fast!