In full disclosure, this is an older post from an earlier iteration of my blog that dates back to 2013. However, I wanted to share it with those new "Gentle Readers".
As many know, I enjoy cooking and like to think that I am pretty good at it. At least my friends and family compliment me. Either I am accomplished - and they are sincere or I am so pitiful that they offer positive accolades to make me feel better. Whatever the case, the family keeps assigning me dishes for the family reunion as opposed to paper products. (Cousin Helen should take a hint - her "prized" beef and eggplant casserole should be retired.)
We have some friends who share our affection for good food and the husband has prepared some of the best meals I have ever experienced. His dishes are usually Cajun but can vary. Although I have never watched him cook I would love to spend time with him to learn all the little details that make his meals so special. I am sure I could pick up much from his methods of preparation, his choice of seasonings, even the way he cuts his vegetables and meats. Whatever he prepares is always an unbelievable gastronomical feat.
Needless to say, when they come to dinner, it is a nerve racking experience for me. The bar has been raised. Being of a competitive nature, I start early researching recipes for something different, a little exotic but not too "out there". After all, I wouldn't want anyone to think I put any effort into it, you know, just a little dish I do every once in a while. (And for this occasion I do use a recipe and mind you, I follow every step - for I fear failure.)
This particular night was going to be one of those occasions. We were going to have duck. I started early in the morning. I washed the duck in cold water and then steamed it over black tea for an hour in an oven. Ok, I could do this, I told myself. The remaining preparation involved carefully rubbing the bird with a special herb butter blend, roasting, basting, resting the canard, (praying to the gods of all fowl), tenting it, then collecting the juices, and reducing them with the juice of freshly squeezed blood oranges. Then I carefully prepared the bird for presentation.
The dinner was most enjoyable and I basked in my success, modestly accepting the compliments from all of my guests. Over dessert, I remarked that even though, I had to admit, I was pleased with my duck, I had always loved the unique flavor of his duck and hoped one day he would show me how he prepared his dish.
He smiled and said, "That's easy. I just take the duck, wash it, cut off the breasts, throw the remainder of the bird away, then lightly saute it in a pan with butter." Then he added, "Oh, and I throw a bit of salt and pepper on it to taste."
So much for the recipe books.