Thursday, December 25, 2008

Roast Duck on the Table, the Bohemian Alps and Christmas

First, I hope everyone had a lovely, relaxed, family-filled Christmas. Ours was exactly that, filled with family times, church service, food and just enjoying it all.

We'll keep Christmas fresh here on the farm for a few more weeks as we wait for the married ones & grand-girlies to come for their visit.

As the norm, a main part of our day was our Christmas meal. We enjoyed the dinner I received from my bosses-- spiral ham, green beans, potatoes gratin, Tiramisu! and added in biscuits, fruit salad, scalloped corn and pumpkin pie.

And Roast Duck!

This is the first duck I've prepared in a LONG time. I seem to remember making one or maybe it was a goose, early in our married life. Before I realized how much Farmer-dear really disliked fowl.

Ds2 (24 yo) asked over and over , Could I make one for Christmas dinner? So began my quest for an organic or at least a locally raised duck. Thankfully, Farmer-dear, despite his disdain for the dish, asked at work and through word of mouth we found a round-about neighbor (and eldest sister of one of my school friends) raised them and had butchered ones for sale.

I happened to run into her one afternoon in town and asked about them. She had large drakes and one small duck in the freezer. Serendipity?
And then the storms began here and life took over and Christmas preparations went on..... I kept thinking I needed to call her. She had said she and their young son were flying out sometime before Christmas to go visit her DD...
Farmer-dear finally called their home on Tuesday evening and yes, she still had the small duck I had told her I wanted.

I called her again yesterday to make plans to pick it up as her home was on the way to my folks. Down a steep hill and back up and slide into her driveway since the gravel roads and such are still icy from our freezing rain & sleet & thunder snow storm last week.

They live on a cozy old-time farm with all the usual farm animals in the "Bohemian Alps" . The end of the glacier deposits from the last ice age created the Rolling Hills of Eastern Nebraska and especially the eastern edge of our county -- hence, 'The Alps'.
Bohemian for the large number of Czech & Bohemian immigrants to this area. My ancestors were some of them.
I'm very at home in the "Alps."

This family is very Czech, so it's like going home when I stepped into their house. I heard the traces of the Czech/Bohemian dialect in their speech. Their home was small and cozy and over-decorated with the usual Christmas finery and then more "silk" poinsettias and garlands and glitter and a large Catholic Nativity on the sideboard. I don't know how to really explain it, but if you have ever seen a Czech Catholic Cemetery decorated for Memorial Day, you'd know exactly what this was like.

(Like this.... just a little over-the-top, but full of love & remembrence.)

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They were so cheerful and excited since yesterday was THE day they were flying out to their dd's. More serendipity that I called when I did?

We chatted and I paid my $7 and off I went to visit my parents. When I got home la Duck was bagged again and left to thaw in a sink of COLD water. Several hours and water changes later, it rested in the fridge overnight.

This morning I searched for "Roasted Duck" recipes and found some basic ones. In short, all I needed to do was rinse it, trim the excess fat, remove some pin feathers (gerk~) and poke through the skin and into the fat so it would drain. Rubbed with seasoned salt, filled the cavity with orange sections and placed in a pan on a rack. Roasted at 375° until the breast temperature was 165°, about 2.5 hours, and the skin was crispy.

Taste-- needed a bit more seasoning. Was a bit more gamey (livery) than I expected, but the meat was fairly tender. I had 2 pieces of breast meat. Ds2 picked that bird clean and later ate the last 3 slices of breast meat out of the fridge. He loved it.
I missed the dumplings and sour kraut that it is served with at Czech Dinners in near-by communities during their festivals. F-R did not even try it. He was quite happy with the spiral ham we also had today.

There was plenty of rendered fat in the roasting pan and I really wished I was a better gourmet. I hated to throw it to the cats but I have to think of our health too and I don't use bacon grease or chicken schmaltz or lard either.

Tomorrow Farmer-dear is looking for a hay grappler (??), some implement to help him haul hay. I guess that means, "Road Trip!" I have 3 new baking cookbooks to read and my annual "The Substitute Guest" reading to do, so I'll be happy to ride along. And maybe if we are close to the city, we'll do a little after Christmas shopping for wrapping paper and ornaments and such.

Wish you a peaceful weekend!

More about the Bohemian Alps HERE , a photo or two HERE , and one more mention with Kolaches!


  1. Well that sounds pretty delish! I have not had roast duck in a long long time...since I was little I think. So do you live near Wilbur? My parents are very good friends( for 45 years) of the head of the Czech festival in Wilbur.(John Fiala) My Mom was even a judge several years for the Czech pageant. John wanted me to me in the pageant but I just never did it! I said it was because I was not Czech...I am full blooded Ukrainian but he said that was close enough! lol I guess it is...all Slavic right?! My husband is the Czech and I find many similarities in the cooking ect... Anyway, this is getting long and probably boring to you!! Merry Christmas!~

  2. DD#1 made Duck for her Christmas dinner and teased me for 3 days about it. It has been years since I have roasted a duck. I need to, soon!

    I will however, not likely by lucky enough to find an organic duck at the Superstore!
    Happy New Year dear friend.

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family!!!