“It’s people like you…” Is always a bad start to a conversation. Just saying…
This week we killed some of our ducks. Some people call it dispatching but let’s face it, I am not here to sugar coat my monologue for your over sensitive eyes. We were killing the ducks.
When ever this event (and trust me, it is an event) occurs at our place it reminds me of my Gran plucking chooks on the verandah after dad had “dispatched” them with an axe and a wood block down near the clothesline. We would watch in in amazement as the Tom and Jerry-esque show would unfold before our eyes. The chicken would flap around with blood spurting from the now naked neck which once held it’s head. “Oohs” came from the crowd as the chicken would do a flip and then fly down the yard, no pilot at the helm, and dad in tow.
This was a time that this was still widely accepted as a way to an honest meal in the country.
Today we had the help of our dear friend Sammy the Gelfling, who you may remember from the early days of this blog and a little segment called “What’s Sammy having for dinner tonight?” Or, as I’m quite sure there were only a couple of followers (possibly Jen’s sister and a lonely goat named Ryan), you may not have the memories to call upon, thus making my query somewhat superfluous and just downright silly. Anyway Sammy and Jennee were chief pluckers, I was head dispatcher (pun intended) and stomach removalist, and Dave (our friend who came over mid kill) was in charge of looking awkwardly towards the sky and hanging out around the corner.
Once again I will not lie to you, it’s quite a 1600’s sort of experience but a worthy one just to have that knowledge of where you meat comes from and what kind of life it’s led.
The marylands would be roasted in the camp oven (which could be done quite happily in a baking dish in your oven) and the breasts are being gently smoked (on the crown to keep the moisture in there) under banana leaves away from any direct heat. This can be achieved in your home smoke house but will probably only require 10 minutes or so. Because mine are getting done with very low heat I’m thinking they should be right for an hour or two. I’ll be keeping a close eye on them and I’ll let you know.
Duck marylands roasted with potatoes (for 4)
4 duck marylands
4 potatoes, chopped into 5cm chunks
salt and pepper
- How obscurely simple does this look? This is simpler still than the half brother you have kept under the back stairs for the entirity of his life, feeding him only dirty old prawn heads and chicken bones, his only entertainment Womans Weekly magazines from the early ‘80’s…
- Season the duck legs all over with salt and pepper. Bake in a heavy based oven dish at 160C for 1½ hours, basting regularily with rendered fat and juices
- Add the potatoes and back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Now check the duck by gently pressing on the thigh… it should start to moan, err, I mean yield a little. If not it can all go back into the oven for another 15 minutes and then check again etc, etc, etc.
- Once the duck is tender its good to go. Check the potatoes and if they aren’t quite done remove the duck from the pan and put the potatoes back in at 180C for another 5-10 minutes. Should be cracking now
Smoked duck breast (for 4)
4 duck breasts
salt and pepper
a source of smoke (a low fire with some nice hard wood or hickory chips is good. A raging inferno in a youth hostel is not so good)
- This is a bit hard to put a time on because it’s all about the heat and smoke that you have to deal with. I kept my duck breasts on the crown (both breasts left on the top half of the carcass) to keep the moisture in and make sure I still had a med-rare end product, covered them in banana leaves and smoked them on the edge of the grill for 1½ -2 hours. The heat does fluctuate quite a bit on the open fire so you’ll have to keep eye on them if you’re going to try this. And at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work try again. Fire and smoke are hard things to grasp (mostly because they’re hot and whispy) but it doea get easier the more you try. And if you do manage to fluke a primo product first try, well then you just look like a bloody champ!
May the force be with you…