Duck, slow cooked in a casserole


Here's a dish I recommend highly, which proves that ducks are not only for roasting. I collected this recipe from Mme Laroche at the Domaine aux Moines where they make mainly white wine, near Savennieres. A small country road winds out of the quiet little town up into steeper vineyards from where there are views of the river Loire. It's famous for its pork products; the full, splendid range of French charcuterie, including boudin noir (blood sausage), is available here. A very local version of the latter, la Gogue, is unusual in that it contains many green vegetables. Many people keep chickens and ducks and these feature frequently, and in delicious forms, in the harvest meals.

Duck stew with Shallots & Potatoes ( Ragout de Canard)

FOR 4 - 6 PEOPLE

1 duck, weighing at least 2.5 kg (5 lb)

butter a little plain flour bouquet garni of thyme, parsley,

bay leaf and a stick of celery

12 shallots, peeled 1 kg (2 lb) potatoes

water salt and pepper

Joint the duck into manageable pieces, and brown them in butter in a large pan. The duck will give off quite a lot of fat and most of it can be poured off now. (It could be used to fry some potatoes on another occasion, giving them an excellent flavour.)

When the pieces are well-browned,sprinkle with flour and turn in the butter. Gradually add enough water to cover, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the flour. Add the bouquet garni and shallots. Bring just to the boil, cover and leave to simmer very gently for about two hours. After one hour add the potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized pieces.

To make a more refined dish, the amount of flour could be reduced or eliminated altogether, and chicken stock used instead of water. In this case, keep the pieces of duck and potatoes warm at the end of the cooking, remove the bouquet garni and boil the stock for about five minutes to reduce it a little and give it a depth of flavour and better consistency.

Before serving,check the sauce for seasoning and pour over the duck and potatoes.