Happy Thanksgiving Canada

To all my Canadian family and friends, happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone is enjoying a long weekend with lots of good food and fun company.  I won’t be cooking turkey until next month, but I always try to create a fall-inspired meal in honor of this day.  This week I decided duck would be an appropriate choice for this occasion.   Duck can be a challenge to cook; the same caveats apply as those of roasting turkey, namely getting the legs cooked without drying the breast meat.  Duck has the advantage of all that subcutaneous fat which can be saved and used for roasting potatoes and the like.  Here is the method and recipe I used for a slow-roasted duck and it was very good indeed.

Roasted Duck with Orange -Hoisin Glaze ( adapted from Fine Cooking #102 )

For the Duck
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 1/4 tsp. coriander seed
1 1/4 tsp. five-spice powder
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 duck (5 to 6lb.), giblets discarded.

For the Glaze
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Season the duck
In a mortar or spice grinder, grind the garlic, orange zest, coriander, five-spice, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a coarse paste.
Make 20 to 30 small slits in the skin of the duck, using a sharp paring knife held parallel to the duck surface so that you pierce the skin and the fat but not the meat. Be sure to make slits on the back and thighs as well as the breast. Rub about two-thirds of the spice mixture into the duck cavity and then rub the remaining all over the skin. Set the duck on a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet and allow to air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours.
Roast the duck
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325F. Let the duck sit at room temperature while the oven heats. Arrange the duck, breast down, on a small v-rack in a roasting pan and roast for 1 1/4 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon or pour most of the fat from the pan-use a turkey baster if you have one. Flip the duck and pierce the skin again all over with a knife. Continue roasting until the meat around the thighs feels tender when prodded, and the legs feel loose in their joints, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 175F. This will take about 45 to 60 minutes.
Glaze the duck
Remove the duck from the oven, and increase the heat to 500F. In a small bowl, whisk the hoisin, orange liqueur, honey, orange juice, and sesame oil. Transfer the duck, on its rack, to a rimmed baking sheet. With a brush, paint the breast and legs with a thin layer of glaze and return to the oven. Paint again after 5 minutes and continue roasting until mahogany-color, 3 to 5 minutes more. let the duck rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

*After draining the fat from the roasting pan, I used some of it to coat several potatoes and carrots, cut into chunks.  These roasted while the duck did its final 45 minutes in the oven.  I then served the duck with steamed broccolini and the roasted root vegetables.

Because my Father’s birthday on October 12 always fell within a day or two of Thanksgiving, our family often combined the two celebrations. Dad wasn’t particularly fond of pumpkin pie, so one year I made him this apple cake for his birthday. As I recall he enjoyed it, and I think he would have liked my roast duck dinner as well.

Warm Apple Cake with Caramel Pecan Sauce ( adapted from Marlene Sorosky )

Apple Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2-3 tart apples ( about a pound ), peeled, cored, and finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Caramel Pecan Sauce

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a deep 9 inch cake pan and place a parchment round in the bottom. ( If you do not own a 2 inch deep cake pan, use a springform pan to avoid spillover ) Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add flour, spices, baking soda and salt, beating just until incorporated. The batter will be thick. With a large spatula, mix in the apples, pecans, and vanilla. At this point it may seem that there is not enough batter in proportion to the apples. This is ok. Try to ensure that all the apples and nuts are coated with batter before you transfer it to the prepared pan. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the surface with a small spatula. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan onto a rack.

Caramel Pecan Sauce

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, over moderately high heat, until the nuts are toasted and the butter is lightly browned. Add the brown sugar and cream, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and the sugar dissolves and turns a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat. Sauce will thicken somewhat as it cools.

To serve, place a wedge of warm cake on a dessert plate. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon warm Caramel Pecan sauce over all.

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