Found Food: Crispy duck done up with northern goodness

Here are some of your holiday favourites with a touch of the North to make a fabulous meal for 6-8 people – crispy duck with bannock-pecan stuffing, birch-glazed carrots, roast baby potatoes in brown butter and spruce, cranberry and saskatoon berry sauce…then use your favourite tortiere recipe with wild meat.

Birch-glazed Carrots

3 pounds carrots, sliced on the diagonal

¼ cup birch syrup

2 tablespoons butter

salt and black pepper

In a large skillet, combine the carrots, syrup, butter, 1/3 cup water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 12 to 15 minutes. (If the carrots are tender before the liquid has thickened, uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until the liquid forms a glaze.)

Roast Baby Potatoes with Spruce

4 pounds baby potatoes

3 tablespoons canola oil

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into slices

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh spruce needles

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well.

Divide the potatoes between two baking sheets, spreading them out in a single layer. Transfer to the oven and roast until the potatoes are browned and tender, 35-40 minutes. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter just begins to brown, 2-3 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl. Add the potatoes to the bowl, sprinkle with the spruce needles. Toss to coat well and transfer to a serving bowl.

Cranberry and Saskatoon Berry Sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

½ white onion finely diced

1/4 cup port wine (or home made wine)

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 cups berries, fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries,

saskatoons or other local berries. We like a 3:1 mix of

saskatoons to cranberries.

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

In small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; stir in onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelize. Stir in port and balsamic vinegar; boil for 5 minutes or until reduced. Meanwhile, in bowl, stir together berries, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix into onion mixture; bring to boil and cook, stirring often for 8-10 minutes or until cranberries are tender and sauce is thick. Transfer to nonmetallic containers.

Bannock Pecan Stuffing

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon pepper

6 cups dry bannock cubes

1/2 cup pecans or hazelnuts (both Canadian nuts!)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chicken broth

Cook celery and onion in butter in a small saucepan until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in sage, thyme, and pepper.

Place dry bannock cubes in a mixing bowl. Add celery mixture, pecans, and cranberries. Add the 1/2 cup chicken broth, tossing to moisten. Use to stuff one 6-8 pound duck (see instructions below) and bake any extra in a casserole dish.

Crispy Roast Duck

With a fork, prick the duck skin without piercing the meat.

Then submerge the duck in a warm water bath until it is fully immersed. Add 1/2 cup salt, 3 tablespoons black pepper and some juniper berries or spruce boughs. Twenty-four hours later, carefully take the duck out of the brine. Place it in the roasting pan, pat the skin dry with paper towels. If you have time, allow the duck to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the skin to dry.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 325° F. Stuff the duck with Bannock Pecan Stuffing and roast until the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165°F (about 1-1.5 hours). Increase the over heat to 500°F and roast the duck for 30-40 minutes uncovered to crispen. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 20 minutes.

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