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Author Notes: The story of my journey with duck jerky begins in my last recipe, Green salad with poached egg, duck jerky crumble and duck crackling. Because I was asked for the recipe for making duck jerky, I have spent part of last night and today making my own in an oven for the first time. It was a great success. I like mine better than Simon's cooked in the dehydrator. Mine sings much more of Gascony, the home of foie gras and ducks in France. Kate Hill wrote " I like to use the classic combination of ancient spices known as quatre epices, once used to help preserve meat..."(A Culinary Journey in Gascony, p99). I have used Kate's spice formula for dry rubbing duck breasts. Last night I prepared the spices, combined them with Armagnac to make the marinade. This afternoon I slow cooked the duck jerky. It is divine. I commend it to you. Of course you can use your own spices to get an entirely different flavor and just use the method. —krusher
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries, roasted in a pan
- 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1/3 cup Armagnac (or other brandy of good quality)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 duck breasts (with skin and fat removed)
- MAKING THE MARINADE - Have your way with the roasted juniper berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, freshly ground pepper, salt flakes and red pepper flakes (optional) with your mortar and pestle ensuring everything is ground and mixed. The aroma will be intoxicating and worth the workout. You can whiz them in a small coffee grinder if the pounding doesn't do it for you. Add the Armagnac to the spice and mix into a loose paste (less one healthy sip/slurp for the cook - I figure you need to KNOW what the duck is experiencing).
- ADMINISTERING THE MARINADE - slice the the duck breasts into thin strips (approx 1 inch wide and 3-5 inches long). Put into a glass bowl. Add the spice marinade and massage all the pieces thoroughly to ensure they are suitably introduced. Cover and put into the fridge. Just before you go to bed, sneak back the fridge and tenderly massage again. Cover and leave the chemistry do its own thing. A magic marriage of flavors will occur.
- PREPARING TO COOK - next day take the duck out of the marinade and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Discard the marinade and the wet paper towels. Cover a large flat baking tray with foil and place baking wire racks on top. Carefully place the marinated duck strips on the racks with adequate space between to allow the warm oven air to circulate and assist the drying.
- SLOW, SLOW COOKING - bake in a moderate oven (170F fan-forced) for 5-6 hours or until the duck strips are dried but still flexible. Remove from the oven and cool.
- DUCK JERKY CRUMBLE - take 3/4 cup of frozen jerky and put in a small food processor. Whizz until you see medium size crumbs (think medium-sized breadcrumbs - that's the size you're aiming for). Great for sprinkling on a salad or soup for an unexpected hit!
- As Julia Child would say, in this the 100th year since of her birth, "Bon appetit!"