Roasting duck is a pretty involved process. I’ve done it once or twice in the past and have always been pretty happy with the results. However, the process of rendering the fat off the bird is not for the faint of heart so if I can avoid it, I do. I order duck out at restaurants often and when I’m in France I buy a lot of it in a can. Yep, a can.
I buy big old honkin’ (pun intended) cans of six leg/thigh combos packed in enough duck fat to swim in. The confited fowl work well in the oven by themselves or I’ve also used them to make a delicious sauce for pasta that includes a squeeze of fresh lemon. Flavor city. I have never eaten that meal without a short nap afterward. It’s that good.
So imagine how intrigued I was during my last visit to France where I sampled duck cassoulet. I’ll admit that I had never had cassoulet before but I’m glad I tried it. It’s a good mix of beans, sausage, spices and tasty duck legs. Little NH managed to steal most of the pieces of duck off my plate. I was willing to share just to let her widen her gastronomic horizons. Eating it at the base of a castle didn’t hurt my mood either. Or the wine. But I digress…
Fast forward to the last day in France where my wife told me to stop at a grocery store to stock up on wine and any other local goodies. For me that means wine, foie gras, canned duck and, lo and behold, canned duck cassoulet. Très bien! (Or, SCORE! in English.) The cans ran about 15 euros if I recall correctly. They’re big and they expire in 2015. Not that they’ll last that long.
I opened one up last weekend and surveyed the goodness inside. Beans, four duck legs and four sausages. I quickly split it into four equal portions and froze two in ramekins for a bit later. The flavor was better than anything from a can deserves to be. The duck was perfectly prepared, the sausage was delicate and full of flavor while the beans and seasoning helped to balance the whole dish and act as a counterweight to the intense richness of the meats.
I paired it with a Chardonnay to cut some of the heaviness of the dish. It would have worked just as well with a light French red. I can also imagine doing this with a Duvel and having it work out very well.
So yes, great things do come in a can – and not just those hot tamales I used to eat back home.