Duck With Quinces

Somewhere out there is a poem the theme of which is that God, fed up with the world he has created, creates the duck and laughs with joy. Much as I like watching ducks, I love eating them better–indeed, it will be on the menu of my last meal if and when they hang me! This is a Georgian recipe collected by that indefatigable and excellent American cookery writer Paula Wolfert for her book The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ingredients

  • 1 wild duck
  • 3 large quinces
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped

Method

Remove any excess fat from the duck’s cavity. Prick the skin all over with a fork and place the duck, breast side up, in a heavy casserole. Add 2 cups of water, the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and halved onion. Bring to the boil. Wet a sheet of non-stick baking parchment and cover the duck with it. Cover the pot tightly and cook over a low heat for 1 hour.

Wash, dry, peel and core the quinces. Cut them into eighths. Mix the debris from this operation with the cinnamon, salt, pepper and the pulp of half of the lemon and set aside.

Remove the duck from the pot and set aside. Skim the fat from the cooking juices, strain and reserve. Stuff the duck with the quince debris. Rub the skin of the duck with the remaining lemon half. Set the duck on a rack in a roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 1 hour until crisp and golden. Baste occasionally with salted water. Raise the oven temperature to 240°C/475°F/Gas 9 and roast for a further 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the quinces and chopped onions until golden. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes, then mix in the cooking juices and simmer until the quinces are tender and the sauce thickens. Adjust the seasoning. Serve the duck with the onion and quince sauce.

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