The weather finally has begun to resemble summer here. Last night, it was perfect enough to eat outside and we had some friends over for a little barbecue. I did my speciality, grilled magret de canard. I actually cooked 3 of them. Each magret is one side of the breast of a barbary duck. Barbary ducks are the size of geese and are raised commercially here for foie gras, pate, confit de canard and then of course, just good duck meat. The meat of the duck breast is red, and quite like beef. I happen to like it more than steak. It has a layer of fat, which I score before I put it on the grill. Then it's a matter of touch as you want to keep it on the rare side. For me, duck fat is an essential ingredient of my health regime! Ducks are aquatic birds and the fat is totally different than chicken or say pork fat. It's an omega-3 fat and actually cuts cholesterol. Here in the Sud-Ouest, traditionally it is used as a cooking fat. It is no coincidence that this area has one of the lowest heart disease rates in the Western World. Only some of the Agean Islands off of Greece have a better profile, plus, duck fat is delicious!
So the grilled duck breast is sliced thin and served either plain or, I put out 2 condiments last night. A pot of our home made fig hazelnut confiture and our home made confit d'oignon...a sort of onion spread..made with a little sugar. Another classic accompaniment to duck and foie gras.
We always have duck fat here....either from cans of confit de canard or jars and blocks bought in the markets here. The classic accompaniment to a meal like this is a big batch of sauteed potatoes, done in an iron pot in duck fat with parsley and garlic added at the end, But, last night, I had another special ingredient...We did a batch of pomme de terre sautee aux girolles! You cook the girolle (chantrelle) mushrooms separately and add them also at the last minute! I got the girolles from our forest just yesterday morning...I have been getting up early for the last 2 weeks and collecting them each morning...they freeze well. Here's a picture of them before my wife put them in the potatoes last night!