Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reliving Napa: Part II- Roasted Duck with Ginger Blueberry Chutney

I recently posted a delicious creamy polenta dish that was from a fantastic dinner hubby and I had on our San Francisco vacation in May. We had gone to Restaurant Pearl in Napa, CA and I truly thought it was the best meal of the trip. Did I mention it wasn't the most expensive either? God I love that- good, uncomplicated food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and had a friendly, down home feel.

The polenta was definitely the less daunting of the 2 dishes we had. The dinner I had ordered, Fragrant Roast Duck with Pear and Ginger Chutney, had 2 things that were new to me- duck and a chutney. I looked up chutneys- they seemed simple enough with some cooked fruit and spices. One intimidating item down!

I then set out to locate some duck. After seeing no duck at my regular grocery store, I figured the local Whole Foods would have the duck breasts that I needed since they have a fantastic meat selection. Wrong! I get there only to find the two options available are these breast slices that were like ham-steaks or a whole duck. The slices weren't going to be enough and were already cooked- no good. That left the whole duck. Figuring it couldn’t be that much different than a chicken, that's what I got.

Did you know that ducks are fatty little buggers? I mean, seriously! The roasting took far longer than I anticipated and I literally sucked off about 2 cups of fat from the roasting pan while it cooked away- and it was far from dry when served! Luckily I had purchased the whole duck as my silly husband informed me last minute that my father-in-law was joining us. There was plenty for all! And my father-in-law enjoyed snacking on the various loose organs that I pulled out of the cavity and he then sautéed up!

The end result was delicious. The duck was rich and moist, and the chutney- that I substituted blueberries for the original cranberries- was tangy, sweet, and spicy. Served with roasted potatoes, the dinner was a gourmet hit!

Roasted Duck

  • 1 Whole Duck, organs removed, rinsed, and patted dry
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2-4 Cloves of Garlic, partially crushed
  • 1/4 - 1/2 C. Blueberry-Pear Chutney (see recipe below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the duck in a large roasting pan, preferably up off the bottom in a roasting rack. You will want to line your roasting pan well with foil as duck is VERY fatty and will dribble an excessive amount of oil while cooking. I’m sure there is a side that you should face up (the breasts?) but I seriously can never figure out which way is up, so I'm not going to try to tell you how to do it!
  3. Gently pierce the skin all over. This will help drain the fat.
  4. Insert the garlic cloves into the cavity. Drizzle the chutney over the skin and pour 2-3 Tbsp. into the cavity as well. Use your hand to rub the chutney around the skin evenly.
  5. Roast uncovered in the oven until the internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees. This can take up to 2 hours for a 4-5 lbs. bird. (The juices are not supposed to be pink when it is cooked, however we cooked our 4 pounder for about 1.5-2 hours and I swear the juices were still almost red. We ate it anyway and seemed to have no problems.)
  6. You will want to take a look every 30-45 minutes to see about removing the pools of melted fat. Having a good heat resistant baster and a warm glass bowl/ measurer handy make this an easy task. If your skin is starts to get too brown towards the end of cooking, cover it loosely with foil.
  7. When the bird is cooked, remove it from the oven to rest. If you haven't already covered it with foil, now is a good time to do so to keep it warm. Let the meat rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.
  8. Serve with a drizzle of chutney over it, or in a pool on the side for dipping.

Blueberry, Pear, and Gingered Chutney
Loosely adapted from
  • 1/4 C. Cider Vinegar
  • 2/3 C. Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 C. Raisins
  • 1 C. Blueberries, frozen or fresh
  • 2 Bosc Pears, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 C. Brown Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar over medium heat.
  2. Add in the onion and spices. The mixture should boil and cook the onions until they are soft and the liquid has reduced some.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice, berries, raisins, pear, and sugar while increasing the heat to medium-high. Boil the chutney while stirring often. The berries and pear will start to break down into a smoother (though not entirely smooth) consistency.
  4. Continue to boil until it thickens up. Taste for heat and sweetness. Add black pepper, cayenne, or red pepper flakes for more heat. If it becomes too thick, either water or vinegar can be added.
  5. Keep warm either on low heat or with a lid. Serve warm with poultry or even pork.


Joelen said...

Oh my... the title alone has me salivating! I'm a big fan of food combos that seem a little far out or uncommon (aka "gourmet"). This looks fabulous and I applaud your efforts in recreating your Napa meal. Kudos!

Elly said...

This looks so, so, SO good! Duck is definitely one of my favorite proteins. Of course it's particually *because* it's so fatty and delicious ;) The combo here sounds great. I have yet to actually make duck at home but I need to give it a try.