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Tuesday, November 18

Pâté de canard en croûte

Mixing bowls, large
Wooden spoon
Trussing needle
Butcher’s string
Skillet, large
Baking sheet
Pastry brush
5 pounds
½ teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon
2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons
Onions, finely minced
½ cup
Butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons
Port, Madeira or cognac
½ cup
Pork, lean, ground
¾ pound
Veal, lean, ground
¾ pound
Andouille sausage,
finely chopped
½ pound
Eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoons
1/8 teaspoon
½ teaspoon
Garlic, minced
5 cloves
Oil, cooking
3 tablespoons
Flour, all purpose
6 cups
2 ounces
4 ounces
1 ½ teaspoons
¼ teaspoon
Water, cold
2/3 cup
Water, cold
1 teaspoon
  1. Bone the duck.
    See Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (page 570), or review a video on for details. 
  2. Lay the boned bird skin-side down on a board. 
  3. Slice off the thickest layers of breast and thigh meat, and cut into cubes about 3/8-inch across. 
  4. Place the cubes back on the duck, season, and sprinkle with cognac and port. 
  5. Roll up the duck, place in a bowl, and refrigerate. 
  1. Cook the onions slowly with the butter in a small skillet for 8 to 10 minutes until they are tender and translucent but not browned; scrape them into a mixing bowl. 
  2. Pour the wine into the skillet, and boil it down until reduced by half; scrape into the mixing bowl. 
  3. Combine the meats together, and then mix in the eggs, garlic, and seasonings with a wooden spoon until lightened in texture and thoroughly blended.
  4. Sauté a spoonful, and taste; adjust seasonings accordingly. 
  5. Mix in the cubed duck meat and marinade. 
  6. If not used immediately, cover and refrigerate. 
  1. Spread the duck on a board, skin-side down. 
  2. Heap the stuffing in the center, and shape it into a loaf. 
  3. Bring the duck skin up over the loaf to enclose it completely. 
  4. Sew it in place with a trussing needling and thread. 
  5. Make three or four ties around the circumference of the duck to give it a cylindrical shape. 
  6. Heat the oil in the skillet until it is almost smoking. 
  7. Brown the duck slowly on all sides. 
  8. Remove, and allow to cool.
    The trussing strings remain on the duck to hold its shape while baking. 
  1. Place flour, salt, sugar, shortening, and butter into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Rub the flour and butter together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the butter is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes.
    Do not overdo this step as the butter will be blended more thoroughly later. 
  3. Whisk the eggs and water together.
  4. Add the water, and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. 
  5. Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon more water by droplets over any unmassed remains, and add them to the main body of the dough. 
  6. Press the dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable but not sticky. 
  7. Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board. 
  8. With the heel of one hand, not the palm which is too warm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches.
    This constitutes the final blending of the fat and flour, or fraisage. 
  9. With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough again into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. 
  10. Sprinkle lightly with flour, and wrap in waxed paper. 
  11. Either place the dough in the freezer for 1 hour until it is firm but not congealed, or refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. 
  1. Preheat to 400°F; ensure a rack is in the middle. 
  2. Roll two-thirds of the dough into an oval shape that is 1/8-inch thick. 
  3. Lay it on a baking sheet. 
  4. Place the duck on the oval, breast up. 
  5. Bring the pastry up around the duck, patting it into place. 
  6. Roll out the remaining dough 1/8-inch thick, and cut it into an oval to fit over the top of the duck. 
  7. Paint the edges of the bottom pastry oval with a pastry brush dipped in beaten egg, and press the top oval in place. 
  8. Flute or pinch the edges together to seal them. 
  9. Make circles or ovals with a 1 ½-inch cookie cutter any remaining dough, and press fan-shaped lines into them with the back of a knife. 
  10. Paint the top pastry oval with beaten egg, and press the cutouts over it in a decorative design; paint with egg. 
  11. Make an 1/8-inch hole in the center of the pastry, and insert a brown paper or foil funnel; this allows cooking steam to escape. 
  12. Insert a meat thermometer into the hole through the funnel, and down through the duck skin into the pâté. 
  13. Place the duck in the oven, and reduce the heat to 350°F. 
  14. Bake for 2 hours, or to a thermometer reading of 180°F. 
  15. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for several hours; the crust will soften if the pâté is refrigerated too soon; chill. 
  1. Cut around the crust just under the seam of the top pastry oval; lift the oval off carefully so as not to break it. 
  2. Remove the circular trussing strings, and then cut and pull out the sewing strings underneath the duck. 
  3. Place the duck back into the pastry and replace the top oval.
  • In an attempt to impress a gather of friends for Thanksgiving, I decided to challenge myself with deboning a duck for the first time. With a good, sharp knife it's an easy enough task. I thought I hacked up my first duck a little, especially around the leg meat, but it finishes perfectly in the oven.
  • Trim the fat around the neck, tail, and legs to help create the proper shape.
  • I cut into the breast and thigh meat with a crosshatch design, but it would have been better if I removed the meat and mixed it with the pâté per the original recipe.
  • In my first attempt, I ran out of eggs and didn't complete the croûte part. Still taste great but I think the pastry will take it to the next level.
  • Needs a sauce of some sort to pull it all together. Thinking about a cranberry-ornage, of course.
First attempt without the pastry
Recipe from Master the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

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