No turkey for Thanksgiving? Make this easy maple roasted duck


The combination of the pandemic, drought and avian flu means home cooks can expect to find fewer fresh turkeys in stores, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, the cost of holiday air travel is the highest in at least five years — up by 25% for Thanksgiving compared to last year, according to travel website Hopper.

So this year might see more families opting to stay at home, gathering in smaller groups, with no turkey on the table. Which sounds like prime time for duck.

Enter “The Whole Duck,” the new all-duck cookbook from the family behind 30-year-old farm Liberty Ducks.

Liberty Ducks, aka Sonoma County Poultry, is the best-known duck purveyor in the region, providing birds to famous Michelin-starred restaurants like the French Laundry and Mister Jiu’s. But during the pandemic, restaurants shut their doors and Liberty Ducks needed to find new customers. The farm started selling directly to home cooks to survive, delivering vacuum-sealed breasts and legs.

Although restaurants are back open and serving duck again, home cooks remain part of the farm’s clientele. And they’ve wanted tips.

That’s where the book comes in. Jennifer Reichardt, daughter of fourth-generation duck farmer Jim Reichardt, gathered duck recipes from more than 50 chefs and food personalities alongside family favorites; there are also basic tips and butchery essentials. An owner and winemaker of her own label, Raft Wines, Jennifer also provides some pairing recommendations.

Turns out, there’s a ton you can do with duck: duck prosciutto, duck pho, duck meat loaf, duck fat shortbread.

The book also has a whole bird recipe that feels destined for the holidays: Roasted Maple-Glazed Duck with Butternut Squash Hash, courtesy of Dustin Valette of Healdsburg restaurants Valette and the Matheson.

It’s an easy, mostly hands-off recipe full of fall flavors: dried currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, thyme, real maple syrup. Pairing the squash with spicy mustard brings unexpected sing to the dish and keeps it from feeling too sugary. Along those lines, Jennifer recommends pouring a full-bodied Syrah to balance the sweetness.

After about 45 minutes in the oven, the duck emerges with deeply brown, glistening skin. It’s so much better than turkey.

The cover of “The Whole Duck” by Jennifer Reichardt of the Liberty Ducks family.Cameron+Company

Roasted Maple-Glazed Duck with Butternut Squash Hash

Serves 4 to 6

In her book, “The Whole Duck,” Jennifer Reichardt recommends this dish for a smaller celebration — and warns that it’s crucial to use real maple syrup, not imitation. From chef Dustin Valette: “I love making this dish for the holidays or when it’s just cold outside and the family gets together to cook and to share one another’s company. Sit back, sip some amazing wine, and enjoy the beautiful aromas this dish creates as it roasts in the oven!”

Roasted maple glazed duck

1 Liberty duck

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch fresh thyme

¼ cup pure maple syrup

butternut squash hash

½ cup dried currant

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 butternut squash, about 1½ pounds, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 shallots, finely chopped

⅔ cup raw pepitas, lightly toasted in a dry pan

2 ounces grape must (violet) mustard or your favorite sweet-spicy mustard

To roast the duck: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set a rack in a roasting pan. Rub the outside of the duck all over with the oil. Season the outside and the cavity of the duck with salt and pepper. Place the thyme in the cavity. Place the duck, breast side up, on the rack in the roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (or truss the whole duck).

Roast the duck for 15 minutes. Remove the duck from the oven and, using a pastry brush, brush the outside of the duck all over with the maple syrup. Return the duck to the oven and continue to roast until the skin is browned and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the duck (not touching bone) registers 145 degrees, about 30 minutes longer.

To prepare the hash: When the duck is nearly ready, make the butternut squash hash. In a small heatproof bowl, combine the currants with boiling water to cover and set aside to plump. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the currants and add to the pan along with the pepitas and mix well. Remove from the heat and taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Cover to keep warm.

To carve the duck: Cut away the whole leg (thigh and drumstick) in one piece, then cut between the thigh and drumstick to separate them.

Cut along the side of the breastbone to separate the meat from the breastbone, then cut along the rib cage to remove the breast. Repeat to remove the whole leg and breast on the opposite side and split the thigh and drumstick. Slice the breast and thigh into medium-thick slices; each should yield 4 to 5 pieces.

To assemble each serving: On a warmed individual plate, make a “swoosh” of the mustard and place a scoop of the squash hash in the center. Arrange some of the duck around the hash and serve.

Janelle Bitker is the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior editor of Food & Wine. Email: [email protected]

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