My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Confronting the Duck

Well, this is exciting. I’ve been selected by my blog-sponsor, Foodbuzz, to be one of twenty-four bloggers to prepare an “over-the-top” meal on February 25th. Since our Julia is near and dear to my heart, my event will be titled, Mastering the Joy of Julia and will feature six recipes from Mastering.

I’m sure many of you remember the film, Julie and Julia, in which the Julia character kept putting off the recipe in which she had to de-bone a duck. The recipe is actually Pâté de Canard en Croûte which is the de-boned duck stuffed with duck pâté, wrapped in pastry and baked. 

I’m serving it as the appetizer for my meal on the 25th. Like I said – over the top. 

Having remembered Julie’s trepidation over this endeavor, I decided to do a bit of rehearsing with a practice-duck. Then, having shelled out twenty-five bucks for a duck, I decided to practice on a four-dollar chicken instead. Fowl is fowl, after all. 

It’s not as if this seemed like a hugely challenging activity to me. Having carved hundreds of turkeys during my restaurant days, I knew my way around a bird’s carcass pretty well. 

As Julia says, one must be fearless. No fear!

First, confront the chicken. 

For this recipe, one must de-bone the fowl, but leave the skin intact. A very sharp boning knife is essential. I’m glad I had one.

Vegetarians, you may wish to look away at this point. . . .

Make a slice down the backbone and begin scraping along the bones down one side. Easy enough. 

What Julia failed to mention was the wishbone which turned out to be a bit tedious to maneuver around.
Finally, half the breast meat was carved away from the carcass. (No, it's not a pretty sight.)

Flip Miss Chicken around and repeat on the other half. Hold the bird by the carcass, let it hang by the end of the breast bone and you’re ready to carefully cut it away from the carcass. 

Now, one is left with a de-boned chicken except for the limbs. 

Scraping along the bones with the knife and you’re left with a de-boned chicken, skin intact. 

I did feel like giving myself a little ta-dahh. Come Saturday morning when it’s show-time, I’ll have no fear of the duck. 

For tonight, though, a little massage with olive oil, garlic, lemon, and my practice-chicken provided a lovely little supper.

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