Pate De Canard en Croute: Boned Stuffed Duck Baked in a Pastry Crust

I first really learned about Julia Child two years ago when we saw that recent movie about her, and I was intrigued. Cooking has always been a love of mine, and French cooking was a natural next step. I used some gift money to purchase her cookbook, and tried a few recipes. I try them from time to time, when I feel up to cooking for hours on end. M has been asking for me to try the “boned duck” recipe for awhile, and I have been viewing it as something I should try to test my abilities. I saw duck for sale at Aldi about a month ago and the need to fit a turkey in the freezer meant that it was time…

“The memory of a good French pate can haunt you for years.” –Mastering the Art of French Cooking

 The poor five pound duck, did not know what was coming. I am not a huge fan of taking apart poultry raw or cooked. So, this step was not exactly the most pleasant for me. Julia Child said to count on it taking 45 minutes. This is where I was after 45 minutes…

 G started snapping photographs and caught me up to my wrists in duck goop…

 Here I am with the legs and wings left to bone about 90 minutes in. If this picture looks like it was taken by a child, that is because it was.

 The skin in all its glory. At this point I chopped up the meat and mixed it with cognac and spices and wrapped it in the filling to make the pate.

Here is the pate of ground pork, ground turkey (poor man’s veal?), ground pork fat, spices, sauted onions, cooked down cognac, and diced duck sewn up in the duck skin. It reminds me a a slug.

Now it looks like a weird little alien browning in my massive cast iron skillet. I stopped for the night at this point, after five hours of labor. I made the pastry dough and we watched a Downton before calling it a night.

The next morning I discovered my true delight in all things baking related and it took me about 45 minutes to roll out the dough, wrap the pate and decorate it to this point:

  Then it went into the oven for 2 hours.

 F watched it closely a good amount of that time.

 Once it reached 180°F, it was finished. I took it out of the oven to cool.

Hot and fresh. It had to cool for hours before it was ready to be cracked open.

 This part made me extremely nervous. I was not sure how the shell would hold out. We removed the trussings and got it safely back into the crust.

 The main course is served.

 The inside view.

Some after thoughts: Pate is not my favorite. I was not exactly sure what to expect, but think a gourmet, large hot dog made with actually good meat and wrapped in bird skin. Plus, a fancy handmade bun. The taste-testers (dinner guests) all gave it high praise, and M even had seconds. I am not sure I would do it again. I think I would rather have a really nice steak…

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