Recipe: Braised Duck with Olives

Staci Strauss

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braised-duck-aux-olives
 

Let me tell you a little story about braised duck.

Years ago, we were lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the south of France, in a beautiful spot in Provence’s Luberon Valley. It was there we met our dear friends, Sarah and Michael Brown, who host a truly authentic food and wine program at their home in the region. When you hang out with Sarah, you’re either in her garden harvesting fresh vegetables, at a local farmers’ market shopping for the best ingredients the region has to offer, or in her kitchen assisting her as she makes truly delicious food. Sarah has lived in the region for so long, there is a running debate in nearby Coustellet as to whether she is American or Provencale! To boot, if you’re a history buff, ask her to tell you about the church in the village–she has a Ph.D in medieval art history.

Michael is an extraordinary host and well-known wine expert and always knows the perfect pairing for the dishes Sarah creates. We enjoyed many delicious meals around the Browns’ table at Les Martins, their family home.

I had the opportunity to reminisce on those special times when I was at our farmer’s market in Woodstock, New York yesterday, when I visited our meat farmer, Russell Biezynski of Northwind Farms to buy a chicken. It was late in the market and he was sold out of chickens, so he offered me a plump duck instead.

Instantly, I was transported to a crisp fall night at table with the Browns, savoring a delicious dish called Canard aux Olives.

I bought the duck.

I got the duck home and referred to my 3-ring binder copy of Sarah’s recipes, a well-worn, food-stained tome that has inspired countless meals in our home.

Sarah describes this duck recipe as “the only serious mention of food in Cezanne’s letters”. She serves it the day she takes her groups to Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne’s hometown.

We made Canard aux Olives last night, à la Sarah Brown, the only variation being the rice, as we don’t get the red Camargue rice easily here. I substituted black rice and it was delicious!

As we toasted before digging in, we toasted the Browns, remembered good times, and in Sarah’s words, we exclaimed “Bon Ap!”

Merci bien, dear Sarah, for teaching me how to cook!

Is there a duck dish that you enjoy preparing?

Photo credit: Staci Strauss

Serves 4
Braised Duck with Olives

one duck, cut into pieces

6 carrots, chunked

6 medium yellow onions, quartered

1/4 cup chunked country ham

2 peeled whole garlic cloves

1/4 cup sweet red wine

1 cup chicken stock

4 tbsp cognac

1 cup pitted green olives

Method

Brown duck, skin down, rendering as much fat as possible.

Remove duck from fat and set aside.

Sautee carrots and onions in the duck fat for about 5 minutes.

Place vegetables in Dutch oven with the ham, garlic, wine and chicken stock.

Place duck pieces on top of vegetables.

Flambé duck with the cognac (optional)

Place in pre-heated 425 F oven for 80 minutes, covered.

Check liquid halfway through and add more stock if needed.

Reduce temperature to 350 F, add olives and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Turn off oven and let sit in oven for 10 minutes, covered.

Serve duck with carrots and onions over rice.

 

 

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