Friday, January 04, 2008

Stuff a Duck

I hope everyone had a nice Holiday!

Mine was made that much nicer by the presence of a roasted duck on Christmas Day. (I have to thank Migrainer for her advice to prick the skin thoroughly and often as it roasts.) This duck rendered like nothing I've ever seen. It had enough fat pad to fly across the Arctic (Oops! New Years' Resolution #3: No more hyperbole.) ... enough fat pad to fly across a few pretty, snow-covered, Pennsylvania pastures.

I wasn't going to stuff it. FRE requested that it be stuffed. I didn't want to use a bread stuffing. I was considering a brown-and-wild-rice mix. FRE requested barley. Barley. FRE is not on board with whole, hulled barley yet. What was that he called it? "Like pebbles in water"? Something like that. (He's not far off, but this is a good place to mention that my fasting BG was 78 mg/dl a few days ago. I owe it to pebbles in water.) I compromised by using a quick-cooking, pearled (and it looks like rolled) barley. It was delish.


1/2 cup uncooked barley (quick-cooking, pearled)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, diced (or a whole small)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 or 3 tablespoon diced, dried apricots
2 or 3 tablespoons raisins
2 or 3 tablespoons vermouth, maybe 4, and some to sip
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
Spices (Your choice. See below for my choice.)

1   Cook the barley according to package directions. Let cool.

Note: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Add 1/2 cup barley. Turn heat to lowest setting. Cover (leave lid open a crack) and simmer for 15 minutes. Cover completely and let rest for 10 additional minutes. (I used Mother's Barley because that's all I could find. Not an endorsement, but not a bad quick-cooking barley.)

2   Sauté onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes until translucent but not browned. Add garlic and celery and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add spices and allow them to bloom in the warm oil for a few minutes.

I used the following spices, and probably some others that I can't recall. I went a little spice-wild.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
3   Combine barley, sautéed vegetables, apricots, raisins and vermouth in a large bowl.

Note: Hold back a little vermouth to deglaze the pan (not a reduction, just a few swirls) and pour pan drippings into stuffing. Sip vermouth as pan deglazes.

4   Stuff your duck.

Note: The spirit of Christmas Day must have been shining on my stuffing construction because this recipe perfectly filled the cavity of my 5.5 pound Peking duckling. That never happens. I always have either not enough or some left over.

Photos: Homegrown. The photo at the top is of my stuffing before it went into the bird. With a few tweaks, this could be enjoyed as a cold barley salad in its own right. Maybe. The photo at the bottom is of my stuffing after it steamed inside a duck cavity for 4.5 hours at 300 degrees F. The barley stayed nicely intact, the raisins and apricots plumped up, and the whole dish gave off an aroma of spicy, roasted poultry. Mmmmmm.

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