Duck: A delicious, magical animal

It’s no secret that Dan is a little obsessed with duck. Sous vide, roasted, seared, confited, whatever–if it’s made of duck, he’s crazy for it. So I wasn’t terribly surprised when he floated the idea of doing a January dinner centered on ducks and geese. I’d never cooked either one, and I was excited to learn.

Getting ducks was easy (we ordered directly from Liberty Ducks in Sonoma). But finding a locally and ethically raised goose wasn’t so simple. We Googled. We tweeted. We searched Chowhound. And ultimately, we discovered that the last remaining goose farm in the area had just sold their birds and planned to quit goose-raising entirely. I was ready to admit defeat.

The next morning at my regular coffee shop, the guy behind the counter listened as I relayed the story of our dead-end goose-hunt. “Oh yeah,” he nodded. “I just did a whole roast goose for Christmas dinner. Drewes Brothers in Noe Valley can hook you up.”

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE living in a city where small talk with your barista turns out to be the most effective method for sourcing whole animals?

Anyways, once we had our birds in hand (one whole goose plus 8 duck breasts, 12 duck legs, 10 pounds of duck fat, 10 pounds of duck carcasses, two pounds of duck livers, and four pounds of duck tongues), we got to work. I made three enormous pots of duck stock. Dan slow-cooked duck and goose leg confit overnight in the oven, saturating the air with a rich meaty perfume. We researched techniques for making liver mousse and sausage (both incredibly easy, as it turns out). We ate duck and goose whenever we found it on restaurant menus. We fried a lot of stuff.

And somewhere along the line, a funny thing happened. I caught a little bit of Dan’s duck fever. Remember how Homer Simpson felt when he found out that pork chops and ham and bacon all came from the same delicious, magical animal? That was me with the ducks. And I hope that’s how our guests felt too when we presented this menu.

duck fat fries with three sauces

0. Goose leg confit a l’orange and fried duck tongues
Beer cocktail: Saison Dupont, Knob Creek bourbon, spiced kumquat syrup, orange

1. Duck fat fries with spicy banana ketchup, caper parsley relish, and curry aioli
2001 Michel Dervin, Cuchery, Champagne, France

2. Goose pho
2008 Clos Habert, Francois Chidaine, Montluis Sur Louire, France

3. Duck leg confit slider on a housemade bun, pear mostarda, purple slaw with pomegranate
Curieux, Allagash Brewing, Portland, Maine

4. Duck / duck / goose (duck liver mousse, housemade duck sausage, and goose breast with a sweet potato tater tot, bourbon caramel, honey poached apple, and cider gastrique)
2007 Domaine de L’Oratoire St Martin, Côtes du Rhône, France

5. Blood orange and ginger trifle
NV Caveau du Mont July Bugey Cerdon Rosé, Jura, France

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