Fall flavors start with the harvest of late summer’s produce, awakening some primal urge for slow cooked meals and poultry. Its the time when we dust off grandma’s cast iron dutch oven or our mother’s crock pot, and begin to plot meals laced with sage, starch, and plenty of butter. Fall brings layers of flavors and layers of clothing, layers that both increase and hide our bulging waistlines. A welcome reprieve from the dreaded swim suit season, allowing ourselves another helping of sweet potatoes under the security afforded only by woolen sweaters and understanding family. Yes, it is a pleasure to start to indulge in gastronomic overkill during a time when we all start to huddle around a warm dinner table as opposed to sitting on a warm beach. A time when it is more pleasurable to hold close to the unconditional positive regard of our loved ones, who are keen to set an open chair at the table, so long as we agree to sit and eat in their company. It is a ceremonial offering of the work and toil we all endure in the hot late summer months, a promise kept by our elders who kept the fires warm as the young return tired from their months of play. Fall is for family, fall is for food, and why shouldn’t it? So when the sun starts to set early, and cotton teeshirts give way to flannel button downs, please consider the duck.
There could be many noble choices to be the main coarse during such a nostalgic time of year, though I insist there is no better choice than the duck. Just as the fall is a time to think of family and food, the delicious and generous duck is a reminder of all things autumn. To emphasize family, take note that the duck is monogamous, pledging itself to one mate and one nest. Understandably, they often only remain monogamous for about a year, but these are modern times, so I think the analogy still works. Ducks will often find new mates, although they will still bring them back to the same nest. Awkward, but not unlike the awkward family dinners one is subjected to nowadays. Secondly, they are fat, although one would never guess it. Yes, much like our bulging waistlines begin to be concealed by fluffy sweaters, ducks hide their shame with elegant down feather coats. Finally, have you ever had duck fat spread on a fresh baguette? Seriously, it is to die for, you do not know what you are missing.
In honor of the autumn months, the late summer harvest, the mostly monogamous duck, and my own respect for layered clothing; here is a recipe for slow rosted duck and a harvest vegetable biryani. I have used a Aleppo Pepper and White Pepper honey glaze to season the duck, this is an extremely versatile glaze well suited for any poultry. The harvest vegetables are paired with our tandoori seasoning, prepared in a manner similar to a biryani but slightly modified to highlight the bright flavors of autumn. Enjoy!
Aleppo Pepper and White Pepper Honey Glazed Duck
- one five pound duck
- kosher salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup crushed Aleppo Chili Peppers
- 2 tablespoons ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Harvest Vegetable Biryani
- 2 1/2 cups rinsed wild rice
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 4-5 small chopped redskin potatoes
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil or good quality olive oil
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 whole turkish bay leaves
- 4 green cardamon pods
- 3 peeled and diced carrots
- 1 peeled and diced large sugar beet
- 1 peeled and diced large yellow beet
- 2 diced fresh sweet hungarian chili peppers
- 4 chopped small tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons Tandoori Spice
- Fresh cilantro to garnish
Heat oil in a large pot with a heavy lid. Under medium heat, sauté rice, potatoes, cloves, bay leaves, and cardamon until rice is translucent. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cook rice under low heat for 15 minutes. Add carrots, beets, chilis, tomatoes, apricots, walnuts and Tandoori Spice. Stir until roughly combined. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake under a heavy lid for one hour. Garnish with cilantro and serve.