I’ve been making broth lately. Broth. Stock. From the spouse-unit’s unspoken vegetarian point of view, I’m sure it looks like big greasy vats of bubbling animal parts, chopped and dissected, with random vegetable matter thrown in for good spell-making measure…
Seriously, if only magic was so simple. If. Only.
But back to boiling dead animals. Turns out there’s a difference between meat broth and bone broth. As in, one you do with the whole animal, or animal part, and the other is just the bones. There’s a whole world of this stuff, but suffice to say that boiling a small chicken was easy. Yes, it was pastured and thus more expensive then your typical fryer, but it was nothing next to boiling an expensive free-range duck.
Boil it? I thought. But surely a good duck is meant to be roasted! I Googled article after article, recipe after recipe, much as intrepid kitchen explorers before me must have flipped page after page of every cookbook to find an answer.
Nope. Boiling seemed to be consensus. Boiling, and then roasting. I was terrified of over-boiling it, and having this tough bird accompanied with a watery joke for a broth. But then I remembered this past Christmas in Copenhagen, roasting an insanely fat duck. I really don’t mean that as a slur against metabolically-challenged poultry, but I’ve never seen such a flamboyant layer of fat in my life.
That time, I was ill-prepared for what I was up against, and my tactic had been to slice the skin in a crosshatch and pour boiling water over it to extract some of the fat. Of course, it seemed to work a little, but I had little practice with ducks then and had no idea of the acres of fat still remaining! It roasted well enough, but the skin hardly crisped up. In hindsight, I should have boiled that baby.
So here I am, standing around on a Wednesday morning with a much leaner domestic duck. And contemplating boiling. Now, you have to remember that some of my reason for doing all this mad broth stuff is that I have been un-diagnosably sick, that my brain is foggy, and I frequently get distracted and forget what I’m doing. So the entire time I’m getting out this duck and pots and staring around the kitchen, I keep forgetting what exactly I’m going to do with it. Then I get it in the pot and on the stove and I’m still forgetting how long I should be boiling it for.
Duck spices? I toss in some juniper berries, parsley and get lost for another ten minutes looking for the black peppercorns. The small jar of white peppercorns are staring back at me from the bottom shelf and I sigh, shaking a few into the cap and adding them instead. Asian duck, I think forlornly, only now seeing the jars of star anise and cinnamon. I should have done Asian duck.
I wish I had pictures of the finished product, but we ate it too fast. (That seems to be a theme in my kitchen.) The boiled duck turned out perfect, and roasted well, and even the picky cat ate it. So here’s a picture of some leftover duck soup instead.