THIS QUICKIE meal was developed for use in duck camps, where you come in from the marsh too cold and hyngry to fool around, but works just as well at home. It is a one-pan, one-dish meal to which you can add any side dishes you like, and takes about half an hour to prepare from scratch.
First, shoot your duck. If it's already in the freezer, transfer it to the refrigerator before leaving for work. Only wild ducks need apply; domestic birds are too fatty, will cook too slowly and will come out greasy.
A bird from the freezer will already have been cleaned and plucked, of course, but neither step is necessary with a bird fresh in hand from the field. The recipe works equally well with small geese, coots and scoters, not to mention such unjustifiably despised small birds as crows and starlings (in which case, forget about the legs).
Slit the skin above the bosom, peel it back and remove the breasts. Start each one by slipping a sharp knife along the keel of the breastbone; the breasts will come away logically and easily except for certain complications around the wing roots. The breasts of a goose or a very large duck should be sliced across the grain into one-inch strips.
Remove the feet at the knee joint. Slit the skin along one side of each leg, peel, and disjoint the legs at the hip, taking care to capture as much flank meat as possible.
Fish around inside and find the gizzard, liver and heart. Mince, rinse and dry them and we're ready to go. You will need a single frying pan and the following (multiply each ingredient by the number of servings needed): 1 duck 1 tart, crisp apple Butter sufficient to saute' duck and apples Cinnamon sugar to taste Salt and pepper 1 tablespoon dehydrated flaked onion (or 1 small white onion, finely chopped) 1 tablespoon calvados, cognac or brandy Toast
Cut up the duck as directed above. The apple should be firm and tart; granny smiths and other cooking varieties work best. Slice them into 1/2-inch wedges. Heat butter in the pan until it starts to brown and arrange the apple slices around the edge. Let them brown while preparing the breast, removing the apple slices when they have softened but before they get mushy; sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them and set aside.
Lightly salt and heavily pepper the duck breasts and legs, and pound the hell out of them with the back of a knife or a stick or something. Sear them, reduce heat and saute' until they are pleasingly browned but no more than medium-rare. Disregard the pleas of companions who say they can't stand rare fowl. (If they absolutely revolt when the meat is on the plate, slice the cooked breasts thinly across the grain, return to the pan and sear the red out.)
Stir the minced giblets into the pan, adding butter as necessary. When they have browned, sprinkle the onions into the mess. As the flakes begin to swell, remove the pan from the fire, add the calvados and flame it.
Place the duck breasts on toast, pour the sauce over the meat and serve the apple slices on the side. While everybody's gobbling the breasts, continue cooking the legs very slowly. They are never going to get tender, but who cares?