Thursday December 25
We've been telling everyone that if the weather allowed, we were going to smoke a duck for Christmas. Today we walked out to the garage to set up the smoker, and found that we had herb twigs, wood chips, and everything - except charcoal. So rather than drive out to yet another grocery store (enough of that yesterday), we decided to go another way.
Holt broke down the duck, with the breasts curing in salt, thyme, and allspice for tonight, the legs and trimmings for crispy parcels tomorrow, the spare skin for grievenes, and all the rest for the stockpot.
Our side dish was a good counterpoint to rich, oily duck: rich, creamy turnip gratin. We tweaked the original recipe a bit. We used under 2 pounds of white turnips from the last farmer's market, nutmeg instead of cayenne, and did its first stage of cooking in the oven for 10 minutes UNcovered (contrary to the original recipe), using duckfat instead of butter, which gave it lovely crispy edges as well as browning the bottom.
As for the duck breasts, once the turnip gratin was resting, we seared them in duckfat and butter for 2 mins. per side, then added a little duck broth and cooked under cover until they came to 135º in center. They rested a bit while we added chopped green peppercorns in brine and dried pink peppercorns to the juices in the pan, for that Christmassy feel. Deglazed with a touch of white wine, and poured the sauce over the meat.
Served with cranberry chutney, it was so seasonal, you could plotz.