Monday, February 17, 2014

Duck Fricassee à la Jefferson {Presidents' Day}

For some reason, Presidents' Day wasn't on my radar. I knew the boys were off school, but it just didn't register why they were off today. So, I completely failed on our annual Presidents' Day Hoe Cakes breakfast. Whoops. I decided to make it up to them with a festive dinner.

I read a couple of articles about presidents' favorite dishes, then decided to create a menu based our nation's first gourmet (president): Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson traveled abroad extensively and knew a great deal about different cuisines. He was enthusiastic about his garden and it housed more than 250 varieties of herbs and vegetables,150 varieties of fruit. Many of them were considered exotic, and some - such as the tomato - were even thought to be poisonous by most people at that time.

Jefferson was not a vegetarian though he rarely ate meat. In fact, he consumed very few animal products at all.  When he did, this dish was one of his favorites: Chicken Fricassee. It's a dish originally designed to render an aged cock or hen edible...since it cooks at a low heat for a long time.  I didn't have any chicken, so I used the duck I had in the fridge.

Duck Fricassee à la Jefferson

duck legs
1 T Herbes de Provençe (D had just blended some for me! Sweet!)
1 t fleur de sel
1 t ground long pepper
1 t sweet paprika
1 t dry powdered yellow mustard
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
3 T butter
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 shallots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 C fresh small mushrooms, sliced
2 C duck stock
2/3 C white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
1 C organic heavy cream
1 C organic milk
1 C organic cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes

Wash and dry the duck pieces. Combine the next six ingredients in a mixing bowl and use it to lightly coat the duck.  Shake off any excess flour.  Heat 2 T butter in a large, flat-bottom pot. Brown the duck for about six to seven minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Set the duck aside.

Add 1 T more butter and gently sauté the onion, shallots, carrots, and celery until softened.  Add the mushrooms and cook for about two minutes.  Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan as you work.

Return the chicken to the pot and and add the stock, wine, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Continue to cook until the duck is very tender - about an hour.  Remove the lid, increase the heat to a rapid simmer and slowly pour in the cream and milk.  Simmer uncovered, for another fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Serve hot over steamed rice. I steamed some Jade rice that I had. That's one of my favorites.

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