Duck, Duck, Summer Berry and Port Sauce
When the summer berries are in season, you likely think to yourself “I sure could go for a berry smoothie right now. On second thought, I’ll eat a duck.”
But summer berries are indeed wonderful with local, pastured duck. There are several very good duck farmers in the NYC area and their ducks make ideal main courses for nicer gatherings. The meat is rich though and the sweet and gloppy sauces that often accompany duck dishes makes the dish even heavier. Better to go with a simple pan sauce of fresh, local berries that will let the flavor of the duck come through.
One farmer at the Union Square Greenmarket sells a breed called ‘lola’ which is lower in fat but has a much meatier flavor. For a summer duck entrée, a roast lola duck is perfect. I do like to brush the duck with a sweet mixture to help with browning and I use whatever farmers’ market jam I have on hand cut with a little water. Not a difficult step but one that makes the finished dish crispier and more pleasing to the eye.
Roast Lola Duck w/ Summer Berry and Port Sauce
Farmers Market bill $35/5 Servings= $7/serving
For jam mixture
Stir together ¼ cup jam and ¼ cup of water and set aside
Preheat Oven to 375 (convection if you have it)
Trim the extra fat off a 4-5 pound duck
Pierce the skin in several places with a fork
Salt the outside liberally and let sit for 2-3 hours
Roast the duck in a large roasting pan breast side up for around 45 minutes
Carefully turn duck breast side down and roast for another 30 minutes and then check temperature in thigh
If thigh temperature is lower than 160, resume roasting and check every 5 minutes
When thigh has come up to temperature, flip duck again and brush outside with the water/jam mixture
Increase heat to 450 and roast for an additional 5 minutes or until outside darkens
Remove duck from oven
Pour all but 2 tablespoons of duck fat from pan and put roasting pan over 2 burners set to medium heat
Add a cup of summer berries along with a sprinkling of salt and some black pepper
Sautee for 3 minutes or so while stirring gently
Remove from heat and add a tablespoon of port and a pinch of sugar if desired
Return heat to medium and sauté for another 3 minutes or until alcohol taste is gone
To serve, carve duck as you would a chicken or turkey and spoon berry mixture over meat. I like the thighs the best but it’s all good. Thanks so much to my friend Francesco for the great photo. You can see more of his work at francescobertocci.com.