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The Ultimate Duck Dinner

The Sporting chef shares his menu for the perfect summer feast
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  • photo by John Hoffman, DU
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Grilled Peppercorn Duck with Herb Velouté Sauce 

The first three dishes have prepared the palate for the bold, yet straightforward and uncomplicated flavors of the main course: grilled duck served with a mild herb sauce, rosemary mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus. Peppery split ducks are best cooked over hot coals, but this recipe can also be prepared in a hot skillet. The velouté sauce is simply a basic white sauce made with chicken broth instead of milk.

Preparation Time: 25–30 minutes  
Cooking Time: 15–20 minutes

Ingredients
  • 3 whole ducks, preferably with skin intact
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mixed red, white, black, and green peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh thyme for garnish
Herb Velouté Sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs—thyme, rosemary, oregano, and the like
  • Salt and white pepper
Directions
  1. Place the ducks, breast side up, on a cutting board. To separate the breast fillets and legs from the bird, slice along each side of the breastbone with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, working the knife along the breastbone from the front to the legs. Fold back the legs and cut through the joint that attaches the leg to the body. Continue cutting along the body to remove the legs while keeping them attached to the breast fillets. Slice a tic-tac-toe pattern across the skin with a sharp knife. 
  2. Combine the olive oil with lemon juice and rub evenly over the duck. Mix the pepper and salt and rub it over the duck to coat evenly. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes while preparing the sauce. 
  3. To prepare the velouté sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook while whisking until the flour mixture (roux) is blond in color. Whisk in broth a few tablespoons at a time until smooth. Add herbs and continue to cook over low heat, whisking often, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
  4. Place ducks, skin side down, on a well-oiled white-hot grill for 6 to 7 minutes or until well-browned and crispy. Flip them over and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the internal temperature in the center of the breasts is 135 to 145 degrees for medium-rare. Allow the ducks to rest for a few minutes before serving.
  5. To serve, spoon the velouté sauce onto plates or a platter and arrange the duck meat over the sauce.

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