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.