This year I’ve asked for a pound of duck fat for Christmas. Every December The Good Husband asks for my Christmas list. One year it was a Dutch bicycle, the next year a smiling Buddha. Then there was the year I wanted a La Cornue stove. Three years ago it was a Tibetan picnic tent. This year I am certain there will be duck fat under the tree. My name is Virginia, and yes I believe in Santa Claus.
Here are ten things I would make with duck fat.
1. I would make duck rilettes. Rich, garlic scented duck rilettes. I would take a split of champagne, a baguette and the duck rilettes. Then The Good Husband and I would walk down our road to the river. We would watch the massive cargo ships churn by, the setting sun turning the water to molten silver.
2. I would walk out to the vegetable garden and pull the sweetest of baby carrots. Then I would sauté them with cipollini onions in lots of duck fat. I would add a little honey and a pinch of cayenne and slowly cook them until they were tender and brown.
3. I would warm a generous amount of duck fat and gradually whisk in a little red wine vinegar and a good dollop of Dijon mustard. I would poke around in the herb garden and find the freshest herbs, perhaps tarragon. Chopped shallots and some spinach or frisee and my salad would be ready.
4. I would dig in the garden for the tiniest new potatoes. I would toss the baby potato wedges with duck fat, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt. I would roast them in a hot oven until tender, and sprinkle them with fresh thyme. The Good Husband would grill a thick steak, cut it into slices and we would eat in front of the fire.
5. I would shop the farmer’s market searching out the most perfect fennel. I would poach wedges of fennel in a heavy casserole, with enough duck fat to cover until meltingly tender and redolent with the aroma of licorice. The ocean is just a short drive away. The picnic basket would be packed with crusty bread, tiny lamb chops, and a hibachi.
6. I would bake tender, delicate buttermilk biscuits substituting cold duck fat for the butter, and adding finely chopped chives. Then I would slice ham wafer thin and pile it on the biscuits with a little grainy mustard. A bottle of Shiraz and sharp, sweet green grapes would go into the picnic basket. The Good Husband and I would walk down to the edge of the field and watch the eagles rebuilding their nest.
7. I would make fish and chips extraordinaire with perfectly fresh fillets of sole. They would be dredged with flour, salt and pepper. Then I would pan-sear them in duck fat until golden-brown on both sides and just cooked. A sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley and the sole would become perfection on a plate.
8. I would cut sweet potatoes into batons, and toss them with duck fat, salt and pepper. A very hot oven would roast them in a few minutes. I would serve them with my extraordinaire sole fillets. Fish and chips sublime.
9. I would whisk very fresh eggs with a little cream, season them with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Then I would melt a little duck fat in a small sauté pan and scramble those eggs to new heights of goodness.
10. I would make more duck rilettes. I would pack the rilettes in white ramkins topped with a rich layer of duck fat. I would give them to everyone I love.