Words only muddle what this duck represented, but I'm going to give it a shot:
Beauty. Luxury. Nourishment. Generosity. Freedom.
Whatever the folks at East Fork Farm decide to bring to market, I want to try. I trust this family so wholeheartedly in what they do, I know whatever they raise has been raised above and beyond the finest standards.
Ducks, like rabbits, pose challenges when raised outside of a cage. Though this Peking duck variety does not fly, they are still difficult to reign in. The same is true with rabbits. The tendency to tunnel makes them uniquely demanding to pasture. Yet Stephen and Dawn do it anyway, because they acknowledge raising animals under natural systems as a rightful challenge, and it shows in the final product. Each morsel from their farm proves their hard work and commitment.
Roasted whole, with apples, lemon verbena, garden onions, and celery from Gaining Ground Farm, this duck was one of the finest meals I've had.
Appropriately cooked and served on Independence Day, I couldn't help but draw a few parallels on the subject of freedom. This meal was one free from cages and additives, degenerative illness and corporate profiting. It symbolizes freedom for small farmers to do what they do, and make a honest living while doing so. Freedom for consumers to vote with their fork. Freedom from neon lit grocery store aisles, (and Kenny G supermarket remixes). Freedom to let the taste buds experience luxury the way they were intended.
Whole Roasted Peking Duck:
*1 young, local Peking duck
*2 small sweet onion, quartered
*2 local apple, cut into 2 inch chunks
*3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
*2 sprigs lemon verbena
*sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking dish with parchment. Prepare onion, apple, and celery. Rinse duck under cold water. (If the butcher was generous enough to leave you the neck, rinse and set in a small saucepan, and cover with water. Simmer on back burner of stove, while duck bakes, adding water as needed.) Dry duck with paper towels. Place in the center of baking dish.
Arrange apples, onion, and celery around duck. Stuff duck with the celery leaves and leaves from 1 sprig verbena. Score the skin of duck breast with a small sharp knife, and prick all over. Salt and pepper. Add leaves from second verbena sprig over top of the duck. Place a splash of water in the bottom of pan.
Bake for 2 hours. Remove from heat and allow to rest before slicing and serving with apples, celery, onion pieces and gravy. (Remember to save the bones for stock).
Remove neck from saucepan, and reserve liquid for stock and gravy. Using a fork, pull away neck meat. In same (now empty) sauce pan, add about 1 Tbsp of cooking liquid from duck, over medium heat. Mix in 1 Tbsp flour. Whisk into a paste. Allow to brown slightly. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid from the duck, neck meat, and 1/4 cup simmer liquid from neck. Whisk until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over plated duck. Enjoy!
*Original recipe card, straight from the farm: