Wild Plum Sauce with Roast Duck | Serves 4
Like grandchildren, fruit trees are an investment in the future, and we prize our heirloom fruits for flavor and durability. Not all fruit grows in Vermont, yet luckily we succeed at many types of apples, plums, pears, and occasionally cherries and peaches. This recipe, which features a basic roast duck—with luck, one harvested by a hunter friend in the fall—is crisp and moist, pairs with a sweet, syrupy plum sauce.
The recipe makes up to a quart of rose-colored sauce so you make a batch and then serve it with all types of poultry: chicken, quail, or turkey, too. Make it with wild fruit, heirloom plums from a local market, or cultivated plums that you find in the store.
Wild Plum Sauce | Makes 4 cups
1 quart (2½ pounds) purple plums
1½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
½ cup cider vinegar
2½ cups sugar
In a saucepan, combine the plums and the water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the plums start to split, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer plums to a colander or food mill and squeeze to remove skins and pits. Cut a small piece of cheesecloth, and wrap the cinnamon and cloves inside, tying the top with a piece of kitchen twine. Add the vinegar, sugar, and spice bag to the remaining water in the saucepan, and add the plum pulp. Turn the heat to medium high, and cook briskly until thick, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve fresh with the roast duck, and for basting the duck while it cooks. Store remainder in the refrigerator or freeze.
Crispy Roast Duck | Serves 4
1 five-pound duck, innards and wing tips removed
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 # mixed shallots and onions, quartered
1# purple plums, sliced in half
Remove giblets from duck, rinse out the inside, and pat dry with a paper towel. With a fork, lightly prick the skin without piercing the meat all over to allow the fat to drain off while the duck cooks.
In a large stockpot bring the chicken broth with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to a boil. Gently slide in the duck and bring the broth back to a boil. If there isn’t enough broth to cover the duck, add boiling water to cover. If the duck floats to the top, place a plate on top to keep it immersed. Once the broth comes back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes to render some of the duck’s fat.
Turn off the heat and skim off enough duck fat from the top of the stock to pour a film on the bottom of a large roasting pan. This will keep the duck from sticking while it cooks. Remove the duck from the broth, holding it over the pot to drain, and transfer to the roasting pan; pat the skin dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with salt and the pepper. If you have time, allow the duck to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the skin to dry.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Roast the duck for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, spoon any drippings from the pan to crisp the skin., and baste with plum sauce. Place the onions and plums around the duck, and bake another 30 minutes. Baste again with the duck fat and plum sauce. Test with a meat thermometer, when done, the temperature should register between 130°F and 140°F. Remove from the oven, and allow duck to rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes before serving.