Rosh Hashanah Apple and Honey Duck with Kishke
All right...here it is. A recipe to earn the name of this blog.
Traditionally, the Rosh Hashanah—Jewish New Year—table includes a fish or cow's head. "Rosh" in Hebrew literally translates to "head," so we celebrate the "head of the year" with an actual head—be it fish, cow, lamb, cabbage, etc. When I looked at my whole duck, I thought, "why not use this head that I already have for a symbolic food?" and thus the recipe was born. For all the effort that went into making this dish, I could not find a platter to lay it out on for an attractive picture. And I tried to put all the kishke in the pan, leading to some spacing issues. But I promise it has the potential to be a real show stopper. And even if it comes out wonky, it will still taste amazing. Maybe one day (next year?) I will make the duck again and re-photographic it, but it was too good not to share the recipe.
The flavor profile of this dish is based on a simple Polish recipe for duck or goose cooked with apples and onions. Though a whole roasted duck looks quite impressive, I find that cooking the legs and breasts separately from each other yields the best meat. Duck legs need long braising times to become tender and flavorful. Duck breast, on the other hand, can actually be cooked rare like lamb or beef steaks and quickly becomes tough if overcooked. This recipe also makes good use of extra skin, meat scraps, and giblets. If you want, you can follow the part of the recipe for braised legs on its own. If you don't want to go to the trouble of stuffing the duck neck, or if you can only find a headless duck, you can make the kishke in parchment paper for a less dramatic but just as delicious presentation.
As a warning: this is a rather involved recipe, but I will include some suggestions for simplifying it, so please don't be discouraged!
This recipe is for one whole Pekin duck, which will serve ~4, but I suggest buying and making extra legs and slicing up the breasts so everyone can have a bit of each, and you can have leftovers. This also makes it very easy to scale up the recipe for larger groups. You will probably have to buy your whole duck frozen. It takes 3-4 days to defrost in the refrigerator.
One whole, large duck—with the head, feet, and giblets if you can find it—plus two extra legs (if desired).
one large yellow or white onion
one large granny smith apple
one-inch knob of fresh ginger
one generous tablespoon buckwheat honey
two cloves of garlic
3-4 stems of fresh thyme
3-5 stems of fresh marjoram
one bay leaf
salt, to taste
chicken stock or water
For the kishe:
reserved 1/2 cup of duck marinade mixture, or just add 1/4 of an apple to the following recipe if making kishke separately
one stem of celery
duck meat scrabs and giblets (optional)
duck gribbenes/cracklings and 1-2 tbsp duck schmaltz (instructions follow)
1 tbsp semi-sweet sherry or shaoxing wine
handful of thyme
one container matzo meal or breadcrumbs—you won't use the whole thing, but you want to have extra so you can get the right texture. I ended up using about 2 cups of gluten free matzo meal.
Note that you will need a sharp knife, kitchen scissors, parchment paper, a large baking pan, a cast iron pan, a clay pot or dutch oven with cover that can go on the stovetop and in the stove, a slotted spoon, and twine to follow this recipe fully.
Prepare the duck:
Rinse any liquids off of the duck and pat dry.
Reach into the cavity of the duck and remove any giblets. Reserve whichever ones you want to add to the kishke—I keep the liver and gizzards and discard the rest, but you can use or toss it all. That is the beauty of sausage.
Use your kitchen scissors to carefully cut the skin where the neck meets the body of the duck. Pull the skin back (like a stocking) up to the duck head. You may to use the scissors to disconnect the skin from the duck neck tissue, but it should slide aside pretty easily.
Locate the joint where the neck connects to the body. Use your sharp knife to cut around it, then cut through the connective tissue.
Locate the joint where the neck connects to the head of the duck, making sure that the skin stays intact. Cut off the neck. You can use it for soup stock. Otherwise, discard. Set the head and deboned neck aside.
Next, lay down the duck carcass spine side up. Use your kitchen scissors to cut along the spine bone. You will probably need to do this for each of the breasts as it is difficult to cut right through the middle. Use your hands to slowly pull the breast meat away from the ribcage. You may need to use a knife as you get further down. Use the scissors to cut the skin and release the breast from the carcass. Repeat for the other side.
Flip the carcass over to disconnect the legs. The joint between the thigh and the feet should be easy to locate—you can break it with your hands and remove the feet, or leave them on if you like. Next, find where the thigh bone connects to the carcass. Twist until you hear a snapping sound. Cut through the connective tissue with your knife. You will probably need to use the knife or scissors to disconnect the leg from the carcass. Repeat with the other leg.
Trim any fat/skin that is not attached to meat on the legs and breasts and put in a pan, preferably cast iron. Put the breasts in a plastic bag and put back in the refrigerator.
Trim any remaining meat, skin, and fat from the carcass and add to the pan. Bring the pan to medium heat with the skins and everything in it. You will be rendering the duck gribbenes/cracklings while you prepare the duck legs. Leave on medium and turn down the heat if it seems like the skins are burning. This will take a while, as you want to get as much liquid fat out of the skins as possibly so they are nice and crispy.
For the duck legs:
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Sprinkle the duck legs with salt and place skin side down in the dutch oven/clay pot. Bring to medium heat with the legs in the pan. You want to render a good amount of fat from the legs and brown the tops a bit. It will take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the apple, onion, ginger, honey, and garlic in a food processor and puree until it has the texture of applesauce.
Flip the duck legs over so they are skin up. Add two cups of the apple/onion puree to the clay pot, leaving the rest in the food processor.
Pour a cup of white wine into the clay pot.
Add chicken stock or water until the legs are just submerged in liquid. Add the thyme and marjoram sprigs and bay leaf to the pot. Cover and place in the oven.
Cook at 325ºF for two hours.
For the kishke:
Turn off the heat of the gribbenes/schmaltz. Use a slotted spoon to remove the crispy skins and meat pieces from the schmaltz. Add to the food processor with the remaining apple/onion puree. Let the rest of the rendered duck fat/schmaltz come to room temperature, then save and refrigerate. It is a great oil for cooking in.
Cook the giblets, if using, in 1-2 tbsp of duck fat in a separate pan so they don't affect the flavor of the schmaltz. Add to the food processor.
Add the shallot, thyme leaves, and celery to the food processor and puree everything into a wet paste.
Slowly add matzo meal to the processor until everything comes together in a ball. It should be solid enough to shape.
Lay out a piece of parchment paper. Place the duck head/neck down on the paper. Use the twine to secure the skin at the bottom of the duck's head.
Slowly begin to stuff the kishke into the duck neck, shaping as you go along. When there is no more room, continue shaping the kishke into a sausage-like log. It will look odd, but it comes together pretty seamlessly once cooked. Stop adding to the log once it is a good size that will fit in your baking dish.
Carefully roll the stuffed neck/kishke log into the parchment paper. Secure the end with more twine.
Let sit in the refrigerator until the duck legs are done.
Raise oven temperature to 375 and cook the kishke for ~30 minutes, until the exterior of the kishke and duck neck skin are slightly crispy and middle is set. For best results, turn over the kishke part way through so both top and bottom crisp evenly.
For the duck breast: (this recipe is for cooking the breasts to medium-rare; increase skin side up cooking time by 1-2 minutes for medium. This recipe assumes the breasts are Pekin duck sized—you will have to increase cooking time for moulard or other larger ducks)
While the kishke is baking, cook the duck breasts. Remove from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before you plan to cook them so they come to room temperature.
Score the duck skin with a sharp knife. You want it porous so the fat renders, but you don't want to reveal or pierce the duck meat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cast iron pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the fat renders and skin is crispy, about 10 minutes. Flip over and cook for 3 more minutes. Set aside and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Cut the parchment paper to reveal the crisped kishke. Lay the duck breasts on its side. Slice them into medallions if you plan to share. Sprinkle with fresh marjoram.
Remove the duck legs from the cooking liquid. Serve the legs individually, with the cooking liquid as a sauce on the side for the kishke and duck breasts.