Steve loves to entertain, that’s no secret. Usually the he is the only guy allowed in our dining club and he loves having his girlfriends all to himself but tonight he is making an exception. Yanira has started to date someone and wants to introduce us. This caused a flurry of activity within the group, because it is serious enough to show him off. Steve grudging allowed this, making it clear this was a one time deal.Steve and I are hosting tonight so we are in charge of the main course. We decided on a recipe for Grilled Duck then the Girlfriends rallied to finish out the menu. The beauty of having a dining club is that we get together at least once a month and try something new and exciting. One of the bonuses is that the planning is so much fun as we go back and forth, giving us an excuse to chat. Laure volunteered to do the appetizers and first course, Yael brought Pinot Noir to go with the duck, and Yanira brought white wine for the starters and a fruit tart for dessert.
The Morning of the event, Yael stopped by in the morning to drop off the wine. Since we are having the dinner outside, I can chill it a bit for serving. Steve came home early to set up the table and do the grilling. I clipped some herbs and flowers from the garden to make a flower arrangement.Laure was the first to arrive with gougéres. We popped them into the oven to warm up. Yael arrived and there was much discussion about this guy Yanira was showing off. It is so pleasant to greet the new arrivals with a glass of Vinho Verde as Steve finishes up the duck on the grill. The guests of honor arrived shortly after and we all agree he’s pretty awesome. He slipped right into the group so Steve might have some competition!
Watermelon Salad with Feta and Thyme
- 1 fresh Duck, about 5 lbs., cleaned and patted dry
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 onions, peeled and chopped
- 20 black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 Bottle of Red Wine
- A bunch of fresh herb sprigs: thyme, marjoram, rosemary and parsley or your preference
- 2 Cups of Red or White Wine*
- Caramelized Onions for serving
- Unwrap the duck and make sure the cavity is clean and patted dry. Take a fork or the point of a knife and prick it all over at least 50 times.
- Place the carrots, onions, crushed peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and red wine in a 5 quart pan and heat to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer together for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat; add half of the herbs and cool to room temperature.
- Place the duck in a 2 gallon lock bag and pour the cooled marinade over it. Place it in a roasting pan and refrigerate for 12 -24 hours, turning the duck occasionally. Set the duck and it's marinade at room temperature for one hour before grilling. Drain the marinade and separate the solids and bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced by half. Reserve one cup of the red wine reduction for serving.
- Heat the grill. Skewer the duck onto the rod and set it per the grills instructions. Line a cookie sheet with heavy duty foil and place it under the duck, the fill it with the remaining herbs, then pour in the 2 cups of wine. Baste the duck as it turns on the rotisserie with the reduced marinade for 30 - 35 minutes until a thermometer reads 125 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the duck from the rotisserie and cover with foil. Let it rest for 30 minutes and carve onto a serving platter.
- Heat the reserved red wine reduction and serve with the grilled duck and the caramelized onions.