Jude's Red Wine Duck with Utah Cherries

15 March 2012

Jude Rubadue has been a champion of local food here in Utah since before local was 'local'. She's currently the chef at the Watson Shelter, mid-mountain at Alta ski resort. No one needs another reason to ski Alta, but here are three more: Morgan Valley Lamb, Clifford Family chicken, and Taylor Made beef (the only certified oranic beef in Utah.) Jude sits on the board of Slow Food Utah and the Avenues Fruit Share project as well as the Salt Lake City Food Policy Task Force.

"This is a family favorite. It works great with a low stress, 2 ½ to 3 hour time frame on the stove, in the oven at 325 degrees or all day in a crock pot on low. Buy whole, frozen ducks locally at Southeast Asian Market, Harmon's, Dan's Foods on Foothill, Whole Foods. Some of our local farmers are experimenting with growing ducks- but it's not regularly available, yet. You can buy boneless breasts or duck leg quarters frozen on-line from Valley Game. They have a SLC location and ship everywhere UPS. Duck is expensive. In my humble opinion- it is worth eating less to enjoy it. I use Montmorency "tart" cherries from Woodyatt Farms in Willard, Utah. Our climate is a natural for cherries. This recipe works just as well with fresh sweet cherries in early Summer. Whether you use rehydrated dried cherries or fresh and sweet- just add them about a half hour before serving. Leftover duck is a great addition to any fresh salad.

Soak in warm water, wine, or broth: 1 cup dried Montmorency cherries or use 2 cups fresh cherries.

I use cast iron for the duck- but any heavy bottom pan will work. Set the flame on medium heat. Brown the duck in a deep (6" ish) heavy pan (prevents splashing the stove), skin side down until every available surface is a little bit brown. It will take 5 minutes to brown a surface. Watch it and enjoy the smell. You cannot brown the deep creases of the joints- just do the best you can. Be careful of "popping" fat- use a screen if necessary. Drain the fat out of the pan and reserve it in the refrigerator for your favorite cottage fried potato dish.

All of this talk for the simplest of fancy family meals...4 servings:

6 whole drake legs or 1 whole duck

Trim big pieces of fat from the tops and bottoms, leave enough fat to cook the meat in. (it is okay to cut off the "thick waves" of fat, saves a little time skimming and you can render it for other dishes)

The Details:

  • Saute I cup minced shallots (or sweet onions) with the duck browning. Remove and reserve the shallots for finishing the sauce.
  • 2 big handfuls fresh thyme from the garden: Put one handful in the cavity.
  • 750 ml of a favorite wine, stock or cherry juice: add to the pot.
  • Add the 2nd handful of thyme around the duck- I leave the stems- (it is easier.) Stems give a lovely aromatic to the sauce.
  • A half hour before serving remove the stems, skim the fat from the sauce and finally add the cherries and shallots. Enjoy with roasted parsnips, squash or carrots from the garden!