Round two from Catalonia

This past Sunday I selected recipes again from Catalonia.  This time I selected the Roast Duck with poached pairs in a delicious sauce with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach with raisins and pine nuts.

I followed the roasting method for duck from the Best Recipes cookbook.  That method involves steaming the duck whole to render the fat before cutting it into pieces for searing in the oven.  This makes it possible to cook the breast and leg pieces the different lengths of time needed for each. 

The sauce for the duck (and potatoes) was one that is rather involved because it layers the flavors and takes longer.  It starts with sautéed onion then added grated tomato and sugar to make a jammy mixture.  Next the white wine that the pears were poached in with some chicken broth, thyme and Bay leaves are added.  Next the defatted juices from the roasted duck are added.  Reduce this whole mixture by half.  On the finish a “picada” using garlic and almonds is mixed with brandy and stirred into the sauce.  This is poured over the duck and the poached pears are ‘artfully’ distributed over the dish.  Wow!

The mashed potatoes recipe had no dairy added.  Just boiled russets mashed with scallions and olive oil, salt and pepper.  The sautéed spinach was garnished with the toasted pine nuts and raisins. 

My niece brought a delicious pumpkin roll cake to celebrate fall. 

Blog PhotoDuck with Pears

Serves 4

1 duck (about 5.25 #)
¼ cup olive oil
12 whole blanched almonds
4 small unripe pears, peeled, cut in half, and cored
2¼ cups dry white wine
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, grated or peeled and chopped
1 t sugar
1¼ cups chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves
3 to 4 T brandy or pear brandy

Place the duck in a roasting pan on a “V” rack, breast side up.  Add water to the pan to just below the duck.  Bring to a boil on the stovetop.  Once at a boil, cover the pan with a lid or tight foil and cook on medium to maintain the boil for 40 to 50 minutes.  Allow to cool, then cut into 4 pieces removing the backbone (save this with the neck to make some duck broth). 

Heat the oven to 425.  Lightly oil the bottom of your roasting pan. Season duck with salt and pepper and put in the roasting pan skin side down.   Place on the lowest rack in the oven. Roast breast pieces about 25 minutes, or until skin is brown and crisp.  Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.  Turn the leg/thigh pieces over and roast an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  Check fat accumulation during roasting and remove excess fat.  Reserve any cooking juices.

While the duck is roasting, make the sauce.  Put almonds on a square of foil and toast in oven for 5 to 6 minutes; set aside.

Poach pears in wine for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit.  Do not let get overcooked.  Remove pan from heat. 

Sauté onion in the remaining 3 T of oil in a wide casserole, uncovered over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar  and cook over high heat for 8 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf, and the poaching wine.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the duck juices to the sauce. 

Make a picada by grinding the toasted almonds and garlic into a fine past with a mortar or in a food processor.  Mix the brandy in and stir this into the sauce.  Simmer about 10 minutes more. 

Add the duck to the sauce to reheat.  Serve on a platter with the poached pears.  

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Christine des Garennes wrote on October 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

That looks delicious.

Speaking of Spanish cuisine, do you have any good recipes for a Catalan stew, a non-fish version? A native of the region made one for us many years ago and it was outstanding. I wish I had gotten the recipe.


Jeannette Beck wrote on October 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm
Profile Picture

Thank you, Christine!  

I own two Spanish cookbooks, The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden, and 1080 Recipes by Simone and ines Ortega.  Neither has a recipe called "Catalan Stew". But you've aroused my curiousity.  Can you describe what you had and perhaps I can find something for you. 

Christine des Garennes wrote on October 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

I recall it had really tender beef, some chicken (maybe thigh meat?), chickpeas, some basic veggies like potatoes, carrots, onions and flavors like cinnamon and maybe even nutmeg.

Thanks Jeannette!


Jeannette Beck wrote on October 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm
Profile Picture

Christine,  I looked in my two books and on the web for something like you describe and came up empty.  The Roden book talks about combining seafood with meats in Catalonia, but not chicken with beef.  There are several stews that use chocolate and almonds are often used as a thickener.  Brandy is also a common ingredient in braised dishes.  

Please do me the favor of sharing this special recipe with me if you ever find it!