Revisiting: Canard Rôti à l'Orange (Duck with Orange Sauce) and Soufflé Glacé aux Fruits (Frozen Fruit Soufflé)

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

I made a deal with my father-in-law not too long ago: The next time he came to NJ, I'd make a repeat of my April 18, 2010 posting: Canard Rôti à l'Orange (Duck with Orange Sauce). This weekend, Chris's parents came to visit us and true to my word, duck was on the menu.

I don't usually like a crowd in the kitchen, even though I understand that watching the Gourmess in all her glory can be quite entertaining. So, I had Chris whisk his parents off to the movies for a few hours so I could at least get the kitchen a bit under control before they came back for cocktails (attitude adjustment time) and cooking. Little did I know how out of control it would be...

I started to prep my 5 lb whole "fresh" duck, but immediately tossed it in the trash after I noticed that it smelled like rotten eggs and was discolored in parts. Ick. (So much for trusting my neighborhood supermarket.) Thinking quickly, I did what I should have done in the first place, and called our local butcher and reserved his last duck. It was frozen solid, but he assured me that soaking it in room temperature water and changing the water frequently would thaw it in no time. I left Chris a text to pick it up after the movie, and two hours later, I was back in business with a lovely, Bell & Evans duckling. While I was waiting, I prepped everything else, so my sides and dessert and mirepoix (for the sauce) were basically ready by the time everyone got home.

Once Chris handed off the duckling, I decided to roast it exactly the same way that I had done it for my course last year -- unstuffed, and basted in its own juices, seasoned only with salt, pepper and a delicious, slow-simmered orange sauce.

Now for the sides: My FIL had mentioned that he liked roast duck stuffed with barley and sauerkraut, but since it is summer and I wanted something a bit lighter, I made a nice chilled wheat berry salad with celery, cranberries, shredded red and white cabbage and a dressing made with shallots, orange-infused olive oil and champagne vinaigrette, salt and pepper. The crunch of the salad and orangey tartness of the dressing went well with the duck.  I also diced up four large potatoes and cooked them in the microwave for 10 minutes until tender, then tossed them with some duck fat and herbs and then baked them in the oven along with the duck until brown and crispy. (Is there anything better than duck fat?)

The duck came out perfectly roasted in about 1.3 hours. Served with the salad and potatoes and a crisp glass of my FIL's homemade, white wine (the same kind he made for our wedding), it was a wonderful family meal.

For dessert, I recreated a dish I made almost a year to the day ago: Soufflé Glacé aux Fruits (Frozen Fruit Soufflé). I prepped my ramekins with the parchment paper collars. Then, I puréed some fresh mango and then strained it until I just had the juice, then using egg whites, sugar and heavy cream, I whipped up this luscious, light dessert.  (If strapped for time, you could probably also get the same effect by whisking the fruit purée with Cool Whip/sweetened whipped cream.)

Despite the minor chaos, it really was a fun meal to make and sharing it with Chris and his parents was the perfect way to enjoy it. Cheers to a wonderfully tasty family moment.