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Karen King's Wine Pairings:
Ridge Vineyards "Pagani Ranch," Zinfandel (Cupertino, California) 1996
St. Joseph "Les Grisires," Andre Perret (Northern Rh™ne) 1996
Spicy flavored red wines with some structure will complement this dish.

After Fillet Mignon of Tuna, this is our most popular dish. The lemon-pepper mix is carefully stuffed between the skin and the meat before the duck is roasted, imbuing the bird with its tangy-spicy flavor. An advantage of this recipe is that you can serve perfectly cooked and crisped duck while avoiding last-minute struggles with carving. You can vary the recipe by substituting a different sauce based on the season. In spring try Rhubarb and Dried Cherry Chutney; in summer, Peach-Fig Chutney. Serve with Three-Grain Pilaf or Parsnip Pancakes.

Yield:
Serves 4 to 6

For the gnocchi:

  • 2 ducks, with neck, giblets, and livers removed
  • 2 Tablespoons minced lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped bacon (I ounce)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¸ cup peeled and sliced shallots
  • 1 sprig each thyme, rosemary, and sage
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • I Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¸ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups veal stock
  • ¹ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Parmigiano cream:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ² cup sliced red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems removed and reserved (2 cups)
  • ¹ cup parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup reserved porcini liquid (from the gnocchi)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips I inch long (¹ cup)
  • 1 cup cleaned, stemmed, and chopped red or green swiss chard or spinach
  • ¹ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 ounce)
  • 1 Tablespoon plus ¸ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the neck, giblets, and livers from the inside cavity of the duck. Cut the wings at the first joint. Reserve the cut wing tips, livers, and giblets for the sauce.

Prepare the Cheese Lumpia last. Roll 1 ounce of cheese in lumpia wrapper, folding in ends while rolling and deep fry in oil until golden brown, creating small spring rolls.
Combine the lemon zest, thyme, pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Beginning at the tip of the breastbone and worKKing back toward the legs and thighs, use your fingers to create a pocket between the meat and skin, gently separating the skin from the body of the duck. Tuck the lemon-pepper mixture evenly into the pocket, covering each breast, leg, and thigh. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Heat a roasting pan with a rack in the oven for 10 minutes. Place the prepared ducks breast side up on the rack and cook for I hour and 10 minutes. Remove the ducks from the pan and bring to room temperature. The ducks can be roasted to this point up to I day ahead and held, covered and refrigerated.

To make the sauce, brown the bacon over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pan. Add the duck livers, wing tips, giblets, garlic, shallots, herbs, and anchovies and brown over moderate heat, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar, stirring to incorporate the flour into the liquid, and boil for I minute. Add the veal stock, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes to I hour. Strain the sauce in a colander, pressing the solids to extract the maximum amount of sauce. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the duck breasts and legs from the carcasses. Trim off any excess fat around the breast and leg. Heat an ovenproof skillet over high heat and add the duck pieces skin side down. Cook over high heat until the skin begins to sizzle, about 1 minute. Lower the heat and gently crisp the duck skin for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Cover tightly with a lid or with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes until the skin is crisp and the meat cooked through and moist. Transfer the duck to a warm platter and serve with the sauce.


Recipe from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano (HarperCollins, 1994)


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