Elegant, nourishing and easy to prepare, slow-roasted duck with sour cherry sauce is one of those simple dishes that can speak volumes. A good, local, pasture-fed duck is a hard item to find – at least it was for us. A pasture-fed poultry operation is difficult to manage. Predation, in our area, poses one of the greatest threats to a successful flock whether its magpies attacking young birds (I know, right, what a morbid image) or bears taking a few larger birds. After much looking, we were fortunate to be able to find a source of local, pasture-raised (or is that pond-raised?) ducks and geese. I have a few more birds lurking in my freezer for another special meal.
Duck is a richly flavored meat well-suited to strong accompaniments like fruit and potent spices. Duck is a good source of monounsaturated fat – the same fat found in unrefined olive oil, avocados and pastured lard that is noted for its ability to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease. Duck is also a rich source of niacin, riboflavin, selenium and iron as duck meat is both mineral- and vitamin-rich.
The spiced sour cherry sauce not only provides an lovely accompaniment to the rich meatiness of roast duck, but it also carries with it its own health benefits. Indeed, sour cherries are a good source of anthocyanin – a powerful flavonoid known to fight inflammation. The action of anthocyanin and other components present in sour cherries are so powerful that recent research indicates that sour cherries may prove so effective in reducing inflammation that they may offer hope in the fight against type II diabetes and pain associated with arthritis.
Slow-roasted Duck with Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce
for the Slow-roasted Duck:
- 1 pasture-raised Duck
- 1/4 cup Grass-fed Ghee or Butter
- Unrefined Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper (to taste)
- 1 Sweet Yellow Onion
- 1 cup Dry White Wine (or Cherry Wine if Serving with Sour Cherry Sauce)
for Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce:
- 2 cups Frozen Sour Cherries (Pitted)
- 2 Shallots
- 2 tbsp Grass-fed Ghee or Butter
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 Star Anise
- 2 tbsp Honey
for Preparing the duck
- Rinse the duck well and pat it dry.
- With a blunt butter knife, gently separate the skin of the breast from the meat.
- Spread ghee (see why ghee is such a wholesome fat) or butter between the skin and meat of the duck breast.
- Slather the remaining ghee or butter along the skin of the duck's breast, legs and thighs.
- Stuff the duck's cavity with the sweet, yellow onion.
- Pour the wine into the roasting pan and roast the duck at 325 º F for 4 hours.
- Increase the temperature to 375 º F for ½ hour.
- Allow to rest before carving and serving with sour cherry sauce (recipe follows).
for Preparing Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce:
- Heat ghee or butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Fry the shallots until they're well caramelized.
- Add the sour cherries and spices and reduce the heat to medium.
- Once the cherries are heated through, add the honey.
- Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly syrupy.
- Serve with roast duck or roast pork.