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 Fricot de canard A rustic Burgundian duck dinner.
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Fricot de canard

We're leaving shortly for a trip to Burgundy, plus a few days in Paris, so naturally my thoughts are turning hungrily to French food and drink.

The other night, faced with the happy prospect of an exceptionally fine Burgundy (oh, all right, a very good Oregon Pinot Noir), I converted a rustic French recipe meant for a scrawny old goose into a quicker, simpler preparation using similar flavors with a tender young duck breast.

The original, Fricot d'Oie ("Goose Fricassee"), comes from an old favorite cookbook that many of you have seen me quote before: Mireille Johnston's The Cuisine of the Rose, Classical French Cooking from Burgundy and Lyonnais. The original recipe takes about two hours and calls for a whole goose, a half-pound of salt pork and a big chunk of butter. Here's my quicker, lighter alternative, which took about an hour all-told for preparation and cooking.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 boneless duck breast, 14 to 16 ounces (450g)
1 ounce (30g) pancetta
5 or 6 small turnips or 2 larger ones
1 large carrot
2 shallots or 1/2 medium red onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon (15g) flour
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
2 cups (500ml) chicken broth


1. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the thick blanket of skin and fat away from the duck breast. Cut the lean breast meat into bite-size cubes and reserve. Cut the skin into a few chunks and put it in a small skillet over low heat, leaving it to render the fat, turning occasionally.

2. Cut the pancetta into tiny dice. Peel the turnips and cut them into wedges. Peel the carrot and cut it into thick slices. Chop the shallots or red onion and the garlic; and mix salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne to taste into the flour.

3. Put the turnip and carrot pieces in a small saucepan and add just enough chicken broth to barely cover. Bring to the simmer and cook over low heat for 10 or 15 minutes, until the vegetables are still a bit short of crisp-tender.

4. Meanwhile, put the pancetta into a saucepan or deep sautee pan with just a bit (less than a tablespoon) of the rendered duck fat. Turn up heat to medium-high and sautee the pancetta until it starts turning crisp and brown. Add the chopped shallots or onions and garlic and reduce heat, cooking gently until they're soft, translucent and starting to brown. Add the duck meat and let it brown, reducing heat to very low to keep warm if you finish this step before the vegetables are quite ready. (HINT: Let the rest of the duck fat cool, discard the duck skin, and refrigerate the leftover fat in a clean, covered container. Used judiciously, it makes a wonderful sauteeing medium, perhaps the world's finest way to fry potatoes.)

5. Sprinkle the seasoned flour over the duck meat and onions and stir until it's blended. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth from the simmering vegetables, then put in the vegetables. Simmer over medium heat for another 15 minutes or so, until the duck meat is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, adding a little more broth if needed. Remove bay leaves, check seasonings and serve.

WINE MATCH: I love Burgundy/Pinot Noir with duck in general, and that goes double when the dish is Burgundian. A Ken Wright Pinot Noir from Oregon, a rather Old World-style Pinot, made an excellent match, as would just about any good Burgundy.

Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of these recipes, suitable for printing, online at

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Fricot de canard"

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Thursday, May 13, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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