Our Christmas menu, like New Year’s, is always a bit up in the air at this time of year. Last year it was fairly easy for us to decide because we wanted a Thanksgiving-style dinner since we skipped our Thanksgiving dinner last November. We figured it would be a bit advantageous to assume I could cook all day when in fact I would probably be in labor or have just given birth to Mackenzie.
This Thanksgiving, we’re making it up to a few of our closest friends by cooking a feast on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Tt’s not a holiday here in Germany so we celebrate during the weekend so everyone has time to travel here. Which means we still don’t know what we’ll eat for Christmas. We’ll probably be here at the farm for simplicity’s sake, just celebrating with Stefan’s parents this year.
I came across a recipe from one of my favorite homesteading magazines in Germany, LandLust, for stuffed duck which sounded fairly easy and really tasty. We all love duck in this house, even Mackenzie. I bought a duck on sale a few months ago and he’s been hanging out in our freezer so I decided to try out this recipe to make sure it wouldn’t totally bomb if I did decide to use it for Christmas. The duck and stuffing filled inside it turned out to be fantastic. My test duck was was about half the recommended size so I halved everything in the recipe and it still turned out great. I lost enthusiasm when it came time for the gravy because we were so hungry already after smelling the thing cooking for hours that I couldn’t bear to wait any longer. When this is baking in your oven, it just smells like Christmas in the entire house. I wonder if I can bottle that smell.
I made homemade red cabbage to go along with the duck but I’m not going to share the recipe yet because it didn’t turn out that well. So I’ve got a lot of recipe tweaking to do.
In case you’re looking for a large duck for Christmas dinner here in Germany, I recommend trying Metro (if you can get access) or your local farmer’s market. You may want to contact your favorite butcher ahead of time to order a bird, though. About 1 month in advance is a good time frame to let them know you’ll need a duck. If you’re in the Frankfurt area, I can even give you the name of my butcher who has the best meat ever!
To add some additional flair, decorate the duck platter with edible goodies such as roasted apples. Take 4-6 apples (preferably the same kind you used in your duck), 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon sugar. Core apples and place in an oven-safe dish. Distribute butter over tops of apples and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 30 minutes. And if you don’t eat them all with dinner, add them to a salad later or serve them with ice cream.
What are you planning to serve for Christmas dinner?
Stuffed & Roasted Farmer’s Duck
- 1 duck ( about 6.5 pounds or 3 kilos)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 juniper berries, crushed, or 1 1/2 teaspoons gin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups white or plum bread, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 leek, cut into fine rings
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
- 6 tablespoons bacon, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated (reserve both)
- Nutmeg to taste
- Preheat over to 400°F (200°C).
- Sprinkle the inside and outside of the duck with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, mix the bread cubes with milk, allowing the milk to absorb completely.
- In a small frying pan, fry bacon cubes until lightly browned. Add leeks and parsley. Remove from heat once leeks are softened. Add egg yolks and bacon mixture from pan into bread cubes. Fold in until completely mixed.
- Beat egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer until stiff. Fold into bread cube mixture. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stuff mixture into duck and use wooden skewers to keep the duck closed.
- Place duck in a roasting pan with 1/2 cup water in the bottom. Roast in oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
- After one hour, place carrots, onion, apple and juniper berries or gin into the roasting pan. Pour chicken broth over duck and continue to baste duck with juices until finished roasting. Once done, remove from roasting pan and keep warm.
- To create gravy, skim fat off the roasting broth, strain and add broth to a small pan. Add water or chicken broth if necessary to increase volume. Add a small amount of flour to thicken, stirring continuously. Add salt and pepper to taste.