This Saturday I was really looking forward to going to the market. For one reason or another it's been a few weeks since I've made it there and we are really still in the height of Interesting Vegetables Season. I sat at the bus stop for about 15 minutes, waiting for the number 53 bus to take me to my favourite place to shop. And after 15 minutes a number 94 bus showed up. I glanced up from my book and saw, without registering in particular, a French flag on the bus. I continued reading for five minutes before it occurred to me to wonder why on earth the bus would be sporting a little French flag. Ah. 11th of November. Remembrance day, how ironic. And the number 53 bus doesn't run on holidays, even if they happen to fall on a Saturday. So I considered my options: walk for 20 minutes to the market, shop and drag 10 or more kilos of groceries back with me, or go to the supermarket and get free delivery because I'm pregnant. It wasn't a difficult choice. So I stood up and explained the futility of waiting for the number 53 to the girl waiting next to me at the stop (only two busses stop there, so it was apparent she was on the same pointless quest as myself) and dragged myself to the Monoprix.
Supermarket shopping does have some advantages over the market. First, of course, there is the free delivery. They also sell a variety of cheap wines, toilet paper, detergents and dry spices. And on Saturday I saw a plump duck in the meat section and it just begged to be bought and roasted. I am not a huge fan of duck, but I get tired of the triumvirate of beef-chicken-pork that mostly goes through our kitchen and I love the stock it provides. (See here for the best use for duck stock.) I roasted it with a daring (for me) combination of spices: hot paprika, thyme, oregano, salt and a couple of star anise tossed in the cavity with an orange. It looked beautiful about ten minutes before it was done. But by the time I removed it from the oven, the skin had blackened a bit and it looked decidedly less appetising. So this is not a post about how to roast a duck. We'll assume you know better than I do how to roast a duck so that it doesn't look burned. (It tasted lovely, though.) This is about what to do with that scant cup of duck meat that remains when you buy an extra big duck for only two people. You check your cookbooks and find that they are surprisingly bare of recipes for ducks, let alone leftover duck recipes. And then you make something up.
Roast duck works particularly well with risotto. Its rich meat compliments the creamy rice perfectly, though you might feel the need of a big salad with a sharp vinaigrette on the side. And peas, which are fairly traditional in a risotto, turn it into a slightly healthier meal-in-one. Most importantly, it's Comfort with a capital C on a cold autumn night.
Duck Risotto (serves three)
225 grams arborio rice
50 grams butter
3/4 litre (give or take) of chicken stock and wine
a generous pinch of saffron strands
1 cup frozen peas
1 scant cup roast duck meat, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt, pepper (generous grinding of each, to taste)
Melt the butter in a large, deep frying pan. Add the butter and stir over a low heat for a few minutes, until the rice begins to look translucent. Meanwhile, heat the stock to simmering and stir in the saffron strands. Turn up the heat slightly under the rice and add a wine glass or so of stock. I usually start out with about half a litre of stock and then open a bottle of wine to finish off the risotto: that way you end up with leftover wine, which is much easier to dispose of than leftover stock. Keep stirring and keep the heat at a level so that the mixture just barely bubbles. As the rice absorbs the stock and gets drier, keep adding the stock. Once half the liquid has been added, add the frozen peas and stir to distribute. Most the recipes I've read say that a risotto takes 20 minutes, but my experience is that it usually takes about ten minutes more than that. At 20 minutes, the rice I use is still chalky and hard. However long it takes you, about five minutes before you judge it will be ready, add the duck meat. Bring the mixture back up to heat and then stir in half to three-quarters of the cheese. Salt and pepper generously, tasting to make sure you get it right. (Some cheeses are saltier than others.) Serve with the remaining cheese and (if you have someone like the Critic at your table) the salt cellar.