duck, you sucker.

Goddamn, that's a cute fucking duck. How could I eat this? Well, here's my hypotenuse: I've never had a serious relationship with a duck, or really a bird of any sort. But you know I can sort of see why that's the case: what other species of animal is inconsiderate enough to crap on your head (unprovoked, I might add...I could totally see a cat doing this in a revenge-exacting context)? It's like birds are completely on some first strike shit...and frankly I think this backfires on them: it completely justifies my wanting them dead, as I would anyone who shat on my head (I think this perspective can also be specifically traced back to the Russian Lit Final Exam Head-Shitting Incident, which I'll elaborate upon later). And personality? Come on. There's no one home. Fetch! Nothing. If I meow at my cats, they'll fall down in their tracks and writhe around on the ground. Try that with a duck.

So it's for these reasons that I can continue to munch on them happily, regardless of their faux-snuggleability (which I'm pretty sure is nothing more than a [apparently ineffective] defensive measure anyway). However (and they'll be happy to hear this), I think I'm reaching the end of my recent French phase, a decision perversely enabled by my discovery that my local poelier Jonk (Haarlemmerstraat 53) has perfectly decent duck confit available by the leg (4 euro per). IIRC, a duck confit craving is what kicked this whole French fixation off a few months back, but somehow I never actually got around to buying or making any.

Or eating any. Until now! I tasted my first Jonk leg this morning for breakfast and it was everything I hoped for: very lean (you know, except for the fat that it was preserved in) and purely ducky. Really good.

One of the other great things about mister duck is that he submits dutifully to Mexican preparations: as a quesadilla or tamale filling for sure, and duck's affinity for corn, red chile, maple, and mushrooms would make it nice in some kind of dark saute over some sort of masa cake. But since I don't really feel like dealing with masa at the moment, maybe I'll try that idea over a grilled semolina cake called a harcha (I get them from Bakkerij Mediterrannee on the Haarlemmerstraat, here's a recipe). They remind me of cornbread, but you know, without corn. Here's the one I bought today:

Another duck confit plus is that you can use the fat to cook with, and it's supposedly a bit healthier than butter or lard due to its high percentage of monounsaturated fats, you know the kind that supposedly help raise good cholesterol. We'll see about that.

In Googling Jonk and harcha I came across an interesting Dutch food site called Cheffen. At least it looks not totally useless. Or it may be totally useless, but at least it looks like genuine regional restaurant culture.

Anyway, here's what I'm actually going to do with my duck since I already have black beans made and also have some masa that I made for tamales (during an overly ambitious moment) that I'll use to thicken it. This recipe is not based on the Rough Creek Lodge's version, but I did look at theirs, here.


duck and black bean chili.

1 skinned and defatted breast of duck confit, removed from the bone
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups cooked, seasoned black beans and their liquid
1/2 cup ancho chile puree
1/2 to 1 chipotle pepper, minced, or 1 tbsp adobo sauce from the can
1 tbsp ground cumin, freshly toasted
up to 1 cup chicken or duck stock
1 tbsp blueberry or blackberry preserves
1-3 tablespoons masa harina (optional)

1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped

saute the duck meat in a skillet for 3-5 minutes to brown a little, add garlic for 1 minute, then add beans, chiles, and cumin. cook for 1 minute, stirring. add the stock and preserves, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. if it's still too soupy at this point, sprinkle the masa over top to thicken, and simmer, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. when you reach your desired consistency, you're ready to put it into bowls: top it with chopped onion and mint. and maybe a little crumbled goat cheese if you've got it hanging around as we usually do. and serve.

serves 2 probably.