Duck Baked in a Crust of Herbs and Salt
Chef Robert Lalleman at the Auberge de Noves made us this dish with the famous ducks of Challans, in the Vendee region of western France; muscovy ducks are a more than adequate American substitute.
Yield: serves 4
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups kosher salt
- 10 egg whites
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 (5-lb.) muscovy duck
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. white-wine vinegar
- 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 bouquet garni (1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs, and 5 black peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth)
- 1 tbsp. acacia honey
- 1⁄2 cup Chicken Stock
- 1⁄2 Veal Stock
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, egg whites, 2 tbsp. pepper, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro and mix until dough holds together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450°. Rinse duck, pat dry, then prick skin with a fork. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then sear duck, turning to brown on all sides, 10–15 minutes. Transfer duck to a plate and set aside to cool.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 10'' x 14'' rectangle. Place duck in center of dough, breast side down, then wrap dough around duck, pinching to seal. Place duck, seam side down, on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, place vinegar, wine, shallots, and bouquet garni in a saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by three-quarters, about 7 minutes. Add honey, chicken stock, and veal stock. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more, then strain, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.
- To serve, use a sharp knife to cut through crust, then peel away and discard. Thinly slice breast meat and arrange on 4 plates. Spoon sauce over meat. Cut legs (with thighs) from duck and return them to oven, cooking until skin is crisp, 15–30 minutes. Serve legs as a second course.