Our home pantry is at its finest during the holidays. We like to stock up on basics early (to ensure we don’t run out, and to avoid grocery hassles), and we are more likely to be fully stocked on all the other goodies most typically enjoyed during the holidays — nuts, preserves, specialty ingredients like saffron, other spices, etc. For me, it’s a real treat and pleasure to cook from a full larder and I don’t feel compelled to follow a set of carefully pre-determined menus. I tend to cook with main courses in mind, with everything else following suit based on what’s in stock, in the markets that day, or what guests might like to eat. We had a duck in the freezer and decided to cook it for a dinner for five people. If you are a long time reader of the blog, you might remember my first attempt at cooking duck which turned out rather well, and given the typhoon conditions, Pato a la Milenya, here.
This time around, the inspiration for taking out the duck was an unopened bottle of sour cherry preserves that had been in the pantry for several months, part of a cache of preserves that sister sends our way every year. While we love jam/preserves, we actually don’t consume too much of it on a regular basis. So I thought using 1/2 a jar or so for this duck experiment was a useful and ultimately delicious way to enjoy the preserves. Return to the Pato a la Milenya recipe for the rough recipe, but substitute sour cherry preserves (preferably homemade) instead of the apricot preserves used in the original recipe. The sourness of the fruit yet lots of sugar in the preserves worked superbly in this almost impromptu, holiday-ish meal at the beach.
The duck was paired with some blanched then roasted potatoes, carrots and onions with olive oil and herbs. We also roasted two leftover butternut squashes with butter and brown sugar.
We also made a quick cold salad of haricots verts, or small french beans tossed with grape tomatoes and dressed with oil and vinegar and lots of chopped fresh herbs. Simple recipe for this up next.
The “gravy” or sauce made with the pan juices, duck stock, and sour cherry was delicious, albeit fat laden, and though we tried to delude ourselves this was one of the healthier meals of the holidays, I suspect it was right up there both calorie and cholesterol counts… :)