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Thanksgiving/Christmas Roast Duck

Just Right for Two

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Roast duck is my most favorite of Thanksgiving/Christmas feasts. It's not too much food for a single person and perfect for two (because the leftovers are so adaptable). And a single duck will feed four if you're willing to share. Ideally you start a day ahead (order a pizza for supper that Wednesday night while the duck is pre-cooking) but on Thanksgiving it only takes 30 minutes to cook. Duck is far superior to turkey and only rivaled by goose in flavor. Marvelous stuff! The sides on this menu are semi-traditional, but not quite to make for a familiar but intriguing feast.

Spinning the Classics

This menu is based on a traditional Thanksgiving turkey meal but adapted not just for the duck, but to offer a new spin on the holiday classics. I realize that for many it's the classics, adhered to with tenacity, that define Thanksgiving. If that's the case with you here's a turkey dinner for two with stuffing and gravy. And if you are a traditionalist and roasting a duck is intimidating this Thanksgiving menu is more simple.

If none of these menus seem right, drop me an email at cookingfortwo@aboutguide.com telling me what you have in mind and I'd be happy to offer suggestions - just for you. In fact, any time you have questions or need help, that's what I'm here for.

Artichoke Bruschetta: An Italian Beginning

Artichoke Bruschetta
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
The Spanish are known for their tapas, the Greeks, Turks, and Lebanese for their mezethes, and the Italians for their aperitivos - although, to be frank, it's often hard to tell what the origin of a particular bite is. At any rate, tapenade is generally made with olives, but I'm especially fond of this version made with artichokes. Use the best olive oil you can get then simply spread it on a piece of bread, offer a glass of dry Vermouth with an ice cube, and provide plenty of napkins.

Roast Duck: Pure Deliciousness

Roast Duck
Copyright 2010 Kevin D Weeks
Because duck is so fatty, you need to make a special effort to eliminate some of the fat. This is easy enough if you're pan-roasting breasts or cooking just the legs. It is far more tricky, though, when roasting a whole duck. The best way I know to do it is to simmer the whole duck after poking holes in the skin to allow the fat to escape as it melts. You'll need a large stockpot, and it's a two-part process, but the two parts result in that most luscious of lipids (duck fat) and a wonderful broth you can use for cooking beans or making soup. Serve the breasts for the special meal, add the potatoes below, and then check out the other ways of using the legs creatively.

Cranberry Coulis: Sweetly Tart

Duck with Cranberry Coulis
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
A coulis is a sauce made from fruit that is cooked down into a thick syrup and then strained. I came up with this recipe one Christmas when I wanted cranberries in the meal, but didn't want to do any of the ordinary things like cranberry relish or what's typically called cranberry sauce. This is sweet and tart and is marvelous on roasted poultry (duck, chicken, turkey, goose) as well as pork.

Pureed Cauliflower: Smooth, Rich, Tangy

Pureed Cauliflower
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Cauliflower Puree sounds a bit like a Gerber food product for toothless infants - it's not, by any stretch. Cauliflower is one of the world's most misunderstood vegetables. An afterthought in raw vegetable platters or steamed and drenched in butter, too often the vegetable's essential flavor is ignored. This recipe begins by steaming the cauliflower, but then reduces it to a thick pudding and adds cream and butter, but the tangy goat cheese really kicks it over the top.

Italian Green Beans: Tasting the Med

Italian Green Beans
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
One of the vendors at my farmers' market decided to grow some Italian broad beans this year and when I spotted them I stufffed a bag full. Boy were they good, so the following week I bought some more. The first batch I simply boiled with some country ham, but I took an Italian approach with the second batch and after par-boiling them I sautéed them with garlic, pancetta and anchovies. Don't let the anchovies scare you, they melt in the skillet and you only get a hint of fishiness - but a much richer flavor because they're there.

Sweet Potato Pie: Southern to the Core

Sweet Potato Pie
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Sweet Potato Pie is an old Southern favorite. It looks like and is usually flavored like pumpkin pie and I've had it many times in my life - well, several times anyway. But I'd never made it until I was sent a copy of the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook to review. Their recipe intrigued me because it included buttermilk, so I made it. It's seriously good. The recipe below is adapted from their version.
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