Roast Duck and a Sordid Act Revealed

Anatra Arrosto

As much as I’ve grown to love duck in my adult life, it certainly wasn’t a part of our diet when I was young. In fact, the only memory I have of duck being served took place 40 to 45 years ago and isn’t so much about the duck but the surrounding circumstances. I’m afraid Zia is not who you think she is.

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Roast Duck *     *     *

When I was very young, frozen foods were just becoming widely available. By the time I was in high school, my Parents had bought a rather large chest freezer, placed it in the basement of the old two-flat, and both families took advantage. After all, it was far larger and the temperature much more consistent than Grandpa’s window box that he would install every Winter. Not only that, but having a freezer meant that Mom and Zia no longer had to rise before dawn on the holidays to make ravioli for the big dinner. Holidays would never be the same for the two Sisters.

By the time the freezer was being filled, my siblings and I were older and occasionally there’d be a night when none of the 3 of us were home for dinner. With Dad working at the restaurant, that meant that Mom ate alone. On one such night, Zia invited Mom to join them for dinner. She had roasted a duck! Mom gratefully accepted and everyone seated at the table commented how delicious the duck was. At some point, Mom asked her Sister what possessed her to roast a duck in mid-week. Was she celebrating something? No, Zia had been looking in the freezer that morning for dinner ideas, saw the duck, and decided to roast it. That’s when Mom realized that Zia, that dear sweet woman you’ve all grown to love, was a duck thief. She had stolen Mom’s duck!!!

Now, we have kept her criminal past secret, within the family, but it’s time to air the Bartolini dirty linen. Besides, as far as crimes go, this one was victimless — save for the duck — and to her credit, Zia did share her ill-gotten gains with the duck’s true owner. Mustn’t forget, too, that by all accounts, it was delicious. That’s important because, to my knowledge, it was the last time that duck was served at the two-flat. Mention roast duck today and, with a smile, Zia will recount the story of the day she became a duck thief.

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I truly enjoy cooking these dishes with Zia. This one really hasn’t been prepared in over 40 years and, even then, it was a rarity. As such, it would be so unfair of me to expect her to remember the recipe, especially since I cannot remember what I was doing 40 minutes ago, let alone 40 years. So, we collaborate and, while doing so, she tells me tales from back in the day, like how she became a thief. It’s a fun afternoon followed by a great dinner. You just can’t top that.

I think you’ll find that there’s nothing complicated about this recipe and, if you’ve been around here for a while, the herbs we used should come as no surprise. As I’ve said before, neither Mom nor Zia used many herbs and spices in their cooking. What few they did have were usually reserved for baking. You will, also, note that there was no sauce/gravy to accompany our duck. This was how my family served it. The duck was plenty moist and very flavorful, so, we went with tradition — and I spirited away the duck fat to play with at some later date.

Speaking of later, this duck will be resurrected in future posts. Stay tuned …

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Roast Duck 5

Let the roasting begin!

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Roast Duck Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 duck, approx 6 lbs, rinsed and dried, neck and giblets removed
  • Fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage leaves, chopped, 3 tbsp total
  • A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, with a few whole sage leaves
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 4ths
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 4ths
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 lemon zest, garnish
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C)
  2. Season duck’s cavities with salt and pepper.
  3. Place one garlic clove in the neck cavity and the remaining garlic, onion, and lemon into the abdominal cavity, along with the sage leaves and sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs. Fold the wing tips under the duck’s back.
  4. Use a skewer or similarity pointed object to pierce the duck breasts a repeatedly. (See Notes) Coat lightly with olive oil and lightly season the breast side of the duck with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the duck on the roasting rack, breast side down.
  6. Coat lightly with olive oil and liberally season the back with salt, pepper, and 1/3 of the chopped herbs.
  7. Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, turn duck so it is now breast-side up, season with remaining herbs, and return to oven.
  8. Bake for 90 minutes, basting every 30 minutes.
  9. After final basting, raise oven temp to 375˚ F (190˚ C) for another 30 minutes to crisp the skin.
  10. Let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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Roast Duck 2*     *     *

Notes

Piercing the duck breasts will allow more fat to drain during initial phase of roasting.

Generally speaking, roast the duck for 25 minutes per pound at 350 F (180 C).

We roasted potatoes along with our duck. When the duck was removed to be flipped over, we reserved a couple tbsp of duck fat and a little of the chopped herbs. Once the potatoes were washed and dried, we seasoned them with the reserved herbs, salt & pepper, and duck fat. At the 2nd basting, with another hour of roasting yet to go, place the now seasoned potatoes on the roasting rack. Baste them along with the duck and roast until the duck has finished cooking.

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Terrace View

“I just adore a terrace view … “

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Che Bella Roma!

My Italian holiday came to an end in the Eternal City, Rome. There is, quite literally, no place like it on earth. Where most cities exalt their histories, Rome’s past is there, right before your eyes. The Colosseum, Pantheon, Palatine Hill, the Forum, the list goes on and on. If you’ve any interest at all in the Roman Empire, Rome must have a place on your bucket list.

But what if you couldn’t care less about the ancient Romans? Perhaps fine art is more your thing. Then head to Vatican City and get in line to see the Papal art galleries. Words cannot describe the sheer size of the collections. Following the marked route, you’ll pass through gallery after gallery of works painted by the World’s masters. Be sure to look up occasionally as you walk, for the ceilings along the route are incredibly beautiful.  You’ll probably peer into galleries featuring statuary from early Greek and Roman times, as you pass on your way to the Sistine Chapel. With walls painted by some of the Renaissance’s finest artists, Michelangelo created the fresco that adorns its ceiling and front wall. The ceiling depicts various scenes form the Book of Genesis, as well as some notable biblical figures, while the Chapel’s front wall contains Michelangelo’s masterwork, The Last Judgment. Guaranteed that no matter how much time you set aside to tour the Vatican, you’ll wish you had more.

The Vatican isn’t the only place where you can find art. Head to the Church of St. Peter in Chains, San Pietro in Vincoli, where you’ll find Michelangelo’s marble sculpture, Moses. Of course, you could go to the Church of Saint Mary of the People, Santa Maria del Popolo, to see Caravaggio’s Martrydom of St. Peter, as well as his Conversion of St. Paul. Take a moment to view the Chigi Chapel which was created by Raphael and that contains statues sculpted by Bernini. If it’s Caravaggio you want, then you really must walk over to the Church of Saint Louis of the French, San Luigi dei Francesi. Beautiful in it’s own right, to the left of the alter is the Contarelli Chapel containing masterworks by Caravaggio, depicting three events in the life of St. Matthew: The Calling of Saint Matthew; The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. Like so much of Rome, this little cappella will leave you breathless.

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(Click to enlarge any/all photos)

  Next, and last, is the heart of ancient Rome, the Forum, and its neighbor, the Colosseum.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Zucchini Penne PastaWith our gardens and markets still brimming with zucchini, both yellow and green, today’s look back features a pasta dish that isn’t quite as it appears. Containing zucchini that’s been cleverly chopped to look like penne, this is one way to enjoy pasta with only half — or less — of the carbs. Did I mention how tasty it is?  You can see the recipe by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Cherry_Choc_Oats_Cookie“C” is for Cookie

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128 thoughts on “Roast Duck and a Sordid Act Revealed

  1. John, I love your family stories! Such a treasure that you are documenting them forever.
    As for the duck, well that is just gone onto the menu for my visit, after all, it will be a special occasion.
    I wonder if I will ever have the privilege to visit Rome one day, it is such a beautiful place.
    Have a wonderful week John.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mandy. Living as we did, in an extended family, each of us has our own treasure trove of stories to tell. All it takes is one little “Do you remember …?” at the dinner table and we’re off and running, each of us with our own spin on the tale.
      Roast duck was already on the menu, Mandy. As you’ll see in the weeks ahead, we got plenty of use out of that one duck. Well, you’ll soon see for yourself. 🙂
      I hope you’re having a great week and will have an even better weekend.

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  2. Lovely photos of Rome. I would love to go back again, someday… there’s so much to see there and to taste! I don’t believe that Zia is a true duck thief. Why else would she have invited your mother over to share in the enjoyment of the “loot” if she had really intended to keep the stolen fowl all to herself, or ‘duck in cheek’ as they say?

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    • “Duck in cheek” Oh, Laura! 😀
      Rome is a city without parallel. I do hope you can get back there one day. No matter how many times I go there, it has never lost its wonder.

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  3. Love the Zia “duck thief” story. Bet she shares this part of her past with twinkle in her eyes. That duck sure look mouth-watering delicious. Looking forward to reading about how your serve it in future posts.
    Perhaps I will, one fine day, have the opportunity to visit Italy especially Rome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Norma. The twinkly always precedes the duck thief tale 🙂
      I sincerely hope that you do get a chance to visit Rome. It is sure to exceed your expectations. Like Pompeii, there is no place like it.

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  4. I was expecting to hear that Zia had shot the duck herself — possibly in the local park — and hidden it in the chest freezer, à la “Arsenic And Old Lace”. Poor duck, tired out from years of migration…

    Thanks for the tip on piercing the duck. I’ve sometimes eyed them in the grocery store; am glad I didn’t get one before knowing this step in the roasting process.

    Love the photo caption. This ain’t even Manhattan, let alone Hooterville!

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    • Zia shoot a duck? I’m sure she’s contemplated shooting me for a couple stunts I’ve pulled on her but that’s about as close as she’s come to shooting a gun. You do remind me, though, of my Dad. During deer season shortly after he and Mom retired to live next door to Zia, he saw a large buck nibbling on apples to the rear of their property. Hurriedly, he got his gun, loaded it, and took aim. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, the buck looked up and stared back at Dad. He put the gun down and never picked it up again.
      Finally! Someone who remembers Lisa Douglas! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Colline. I hope you enjoy your duck. We sure enjoyed it! As you can well imagine, I’ve a great number of pics of Rome, especially considering I’ve been there several times. I try to post those that not only remind me of the place but of that day, as well. A few of those shown above were taken on my last day in Rome, as I strolled around looking for a chitarra. I didn’t bring home a chitarra — I ordered one here — but I sure did bring back some great memories and photos.

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  5. What a wonderful family story. It is stories like that which make family get togethers so fun! The reminiscing and teasing of family members, true family love. As for the duck, it looks absolutely delicious. Something that tasty does not need any sauce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve a feeling that, in not too many years, your family will have more than its fair share of stories to tell and enjoy. Any household raising 3 boys is fertile ground.
      I must admit, Zia and I ate very well that night. Never underestimate the cooking skills of a duck thief. 🙂

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  6. A duck thief in the family? I should imagine that’s quite a rarity. 😀 Loved the story. Your recipe sounds gorgeous, and the photo of the duck dinner has my mouth watering.What a pretty plate for your zucchini pasta! Your Rome photos really brought back such lovely memories, John. The Trevi Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune are my favourites. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much. That night’s duck dinner was a very good one, I must admit. I bought that plate while on Capri a number of years ago. Its purchase caused us to miss the ferry boat back to Naples and our transportation back up the coast. What started as an afternoon excursion turned into a very late night — but I got my plates! 🙂

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    • You have to keep an eye on Zia, especially since I have a parrot. 🙂
      The cookies are oatmeal with dark & white chocolate chips, dried cherries, and slivered almonds. They do need a better name, though, they were a big hit in the family that lives above me.

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  7. That’s so funny – Zia the duck poacher! I love roast duck and use pretty much the same seasoning, though I put it on the inside and allow it to permeate from in there.
    I studied ancient Greek and Roman history at school, so my bucket list might require a time machine, to see it in all its original glory. There’s a plaster cast of Trajan’s Column in the V&A Museum in London – it’s so big that it’s in two pieces and indoors, but nevertheless walking into the room for the first time (about 30 years ago) filled me with awe 😉

    http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/trajans-column/

    Liked by 1 person

    • You think you know someone and then their sordid past bubbles forth. All it took was my mention of roast duck. I really have to watch what I say around her. I already know too much. 😀
      I have been to the V&A museum, the first time in ’90 and the second in ’95. Yes, I do remember the Column there. Amazing! Well, it’s just one of many amazing things to see there. It is one of my favorite museums in the World.

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  8. I just knew Zia had a little mischief up her sleeves;) I can imagine your mom’s face when she realized she was eating her own duck! I’ll bet she made sure she had seconds..
    I loved Rome, well, I loved all of Italy, but the art in Rome made a lasting impression. It does take your breath away and made me wonder why our culture doesn’t seem to have art of that calibre being made today.. Can’t wait for the Cookies!!xx

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    • I’ve learned to watch Zia very closely. I dunno but I don’t like the way she looks at Lucy. 😀
      Mom and Zia were very close. They love to prank each other and mailed the same card, back and forth, on the other’s birthday. This went on for years and always got a laugh when it appeared in the day’s mail.
      I am sure that there are those who feel that today’s art is every bit as good, if not better, than the works of the Master. For me, though I can appreciate today’s offerings, I’ll take a Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, or da Vinci any day. And to see so many of their works in one city and not even in museums is just astonishing to me. Like I said, there’s no place like it on earth. 🙂

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  9. Duck is such a tricky bird to roast, I am always afraid I will ruin it….

    great story, great photos, it is wonderful that you can bring all these stories to life in your blog! Your family has a big treasure in you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that fear, Sally, but this was so easy to prepare and so tasty that I’ll have no qualms about roasting another. Piercing the breast and roasting it, breast-side down was the key.
      Thank you for the wonderful comment, too. We’ve all got our memories and stories from our years in the two-flat. I’m the only one with a blog, though. 🙂

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  10. Wonderful duck, bet that was a beautiful dinner. tell Zia she is free to choose anything from my freezer, but sadly i have no duck, i did try though! Have a gorgeous day, i have two girls weeding and me in the kitchen making more sauce! Life is good – until the dentist at 11.45.. c

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    • Shall I put a cooler in the car? Well, cooler in the trunk or not, just put away all of the fine silver. 🙂
      I am so glad that you’ve had help this Summer. Will you be able to do this every year? I sure hope so. I read that all went well at the dentist. Whew! 3 teeth at once is a bit much, Celi. I won’t mention this to Zia. She worries about you enough at it is. 🙂

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  11. Who knew Zia was a duck thief! But she does a good one — perfect recipe. Although I like duck, and like it a lot, for some reason I rarely cook it. I did one last winter, and that’s the first I’ve done in at least 10 years. Maybe more — my memory and 40 minutes is pretty much like yours. And thanks for more travel pictures and notes! I love Rome — one of my favorite cities.

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    • I believer there’s much more to Zia than any of us know. I certainly won’t cross her. 🙂
      I, too, shy away from duck but, after this time, I’ll gladly make it again. It really was a great dinner. You’ve probably guessed that I share your love of Rome. It really is special, isn’t it?

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  12. I managed to get on line and yours is the first post I headed to! Brilliant story about the duck – I hope Zia went to confession afterwards 😉 Lovely recipe too – duck is so packed full of flavour, it doesn’t need much fussing!
    No duck story to complete with yours, but I have a coliseum one….when I was little we always stopped in Rome to see the aunties and uncles before we all joined forces and carried on south to Calabria. A visit to the coliseum was always on the agenda and I asked Papa why it looked like it did.
    He told me that during the war a little girl from a poor family used to go every night to steal a few stones to help rebuild her fireplace (which then became her house as the story gained momentum) which had been been bomb damaged. Every night she went, and without anyone seeing her she took a few more stones and then the end of the war arrived and half the coliseum was missing! I really believed this story for a few years but eventully cottoned on to the truth…especially when I wanted my dad to take me to see the girl’s rebuilt house!

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    • Well, how lucky am I to be your first post! I don’t think Zia went to confession. The ribbing she got over the years was far worse than any penance a priest would have given her. She paid her dues, all right. 🙂
      Love your Colosseum story and will be sure to repeat back home. I’m sure that, today, the “experts” would say that it’s wrong to lie to your children. That the truth is best. Bull feathers! I’d much prefer living in a world where fathers tell their daughters wonderful stories, igniting their imaginations, in the process. There’ll be plenty of time for the real world. Youth is a time for stories and how lucky for you that your Dad knew that. 🙂

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  13. Oh, that Zia! Quite the little Imp! That’s what I call my Emma. I always love your family stories John. They remind me so much of my own family memories. That duck looks beautifully roasted and oh so yummy! Man, I wish I could meet that Zia. xox

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    • Thank you so much, Lidia. It’s always nice to find a comment of yours here. I know that Zia would love to meet you, too. If your Emma is already an imp, there’s no hope for the future poultry of Quebec! 🙂
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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  14. Ah ha!!! Zia, the duck thief – although how many food thieves do you know who would turn around and cook the stolen food for you? I’d share my freezer with someone who did that for me. I haven’t made duck in almost 40 years. There just aren’t the same places around that carry specialty meats.
    Did you ever look at the Colosseum and think…”hmm, with a little work, knock down a few walls, add some elevators…that could make nice condos” ? Sorry, just how my mind works sometimes.

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    • I fear there is so much more to Zia than any of us know but I think it best to leave some skeletons in the closet — and I certainly hope that’s just a metaphor. 🙂
      I kinda agree with you. I’d love to see the Colosseum be the focus for a series of episode of This Old House. Watching them shop for marble is my idea of must see TV. 🙂

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  15. Hi John, what a great story and a great recipe! The only way I’ve ever prepared a whole duck is as Peking duck, where it’s really only the skin that is eaten. I am really curious about this way to prepare duck and I guess there’s only one way to find out… Nice photos of Rome — I love the place, too!

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    • You’ve never prepared roast duck an I’ve never enjoyed Peking duck. What a pair! 🙂 Honestly, Stefan, I’ve not prepared duck very often at all. That’s going to change, though, thanks to Zia. This was delicious and not at all difficult to make. And it was a wonderful afternoon spent in the kithen with her, too.

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      • I prepare duck breast all the time and it is very tasty and tender red meat. I also like the legs, either as confit or sous-vide. Both breast and legs are more easily available around here than whole ducks, especially fresh (which I prefer to frozen as that gives the breast a metallic livery taste).

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        • I’ve not seen fresh duck around here at all, Stefan, other than at the live poultry shop. Duck breasts, though frozen, do seem to be more widely available lately. You remind me of a Thanksgiving quite a few years ago. I was in a butcher shop that I’d driven past but never entered. While there, the butcher mentioned that if I wanted a fresh turkey for the holiday, that I should order it then and there. Why not? So I ordered one and picked it up on the Tuesday before, intent on brining the bird. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the bird and it was frozen solid. Obviously, his idea of fresh was far different than my own. I had little choice but to take the bird, it was at least hormone and injection-free, but I never returned to that butcher.

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        • I am aware of the difference, Stefan, and have always assumed that the duck I purchase was not used to create foie gras. Considering our lax labeling laws, perhaps I should re-think that assumption.

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    • Oh, don’t make excuses for her! I walked through the Uffizi and didn’t try to take home a Botticelli. 😀
      I was awestruck the first time I walked through the Vatican galleries. Nothing can prepare you for the size, breadth, and quality of those exhibitions. Nothing.

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  16. Love it! Zia the duck thief! 🙂 Gorgeous post John… such a delicious meal that you made and shared together… and well done for stashing away the duck fat for a later day! Very wise indeed!
    Your thoughts, tips and photos of Rome are so inspiring… we’ll definitely get across there one of these days to soak up a little of it’s history, culture, people and food. 🙂

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    • I’ve not spoken with her since the post was published and I cannot wait to hear her faux protests. I do hope you can get to Italy and Rome, Margot. You’re going to love it! It is everything you hope it would be — and so much more. As I said, there’s no place like it on earth.

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  17. Bonjourno John! Naughty little Zia is full of tricks! Did you know that many parts of China did not invent or know about a freezer only like 20 years ago. Just food for thought… Love the look of this delicious crispy duck. I bet the house smelled amazing whilst it was baking. I have not yet been to Rome. It is on my bucket list of places to visit. Loving your photos. Have a super week. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buona notte, BAM! I fear that Zia’s poultry thievery is just the tip of the ice berg. She scares me. 😀
      Though I didn’t know that about China, it doesn’t surprise me. So much of what we have is not even a possibility for part of the world. Just after WW2, my Grandparents brought their toilet indoors. Everyone thought it unsanitary and my Grandparents crazy for dong such a thing. Today, you cannot find an outhouse anywhere. 🙂
      Have a great weekend, BAM. Start making plans to visit Rome. You’re going to love it!.

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    • Yo apparently didn’t see/read the caption for my Facebook photo.

      Of course I tossed coins in the Trevi Fountain. I’ve done it every time I’ve visited Rome and, somehow, have returned. I’m not about to change a winning strategy now. 🙂

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  18. Did you say cookies? Let’s skip right to dessert. I’ll be waiting! LOL! I loved this post, John, because beyond a beautifully prepared recipe is the story of what it means to have family stories. I just delight in the relationship you share with Zia and can really feel the love that is translated through your shared cooking experiences. My mom and her sister were good friends. My mom is still living and her sister gone now. We are always talking about the funny things that transpired between the two of them. I think the stolen duck story is just delightful. I’m so glad you shared it. It put a smile on my face. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Debra. You always leave such warm, thoughtful comments and I’m happy that you enjoyed this post and story. With 12 of us living under one roof, it’s almost a sure thing that there would be stories to tell. From what you’ve described, I’d say you’ve a very good idea of the relationship between Mom and Zia. They made quite the pair and, like your family, we still talk about them. 🙂
      Have a wonderful weekend.

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  19. I love meals that have a story attached to them, as each time time the meal is enjoyed so is the story once again. And Zia did the right thing, cooking and sharing the duck in my view, not keeping it for an occasion but making the every day better.
    I recently roasted a whole duck for the first time. It was both daunting and delicious. I am quite squeamish so the long neck rattled me. I froze the leftover cooking liquid-stock and accompanying cherry sauce which I’ll be using to slow braise beef cheeks this weekend. I didn’t know until after I could have frozen the duck fat but I know now for next time.
    As I’m currently desk-bound your travelogues and holiday photos are extra wonderful 🙂

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    • Well, EllaDee, if you like food with stories attached, you’re following the right blog. 🙂
      With 12 of us under that roof, there’s a treasure trove of stories to mine and each of us have our own perspective and memories of the tale. I enjoy seeing the reaction you all have to the stories, not to mention what family members have to say when they read my “take” on a particular incident.
      I do wish to roast a duck with some sort of fruit-based sauce — your cherry sauce sounds perfect. This time around — just like the goat dinner yet to come — I wanted to prepare it as close as possible to the way my family once prepared it. Watch out next time!
      I am so glad you’ve enjoyed my travel photos. It’s a nice way for me to keep that trip in the forefront of my memory. I just don’t want to let it go yet. 🙂

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  20. The colours of your zucchini pasta are so perfect with your gorgeous Italian plate. After studying Ancient History and Art History for many years, a trip to Rome is definitely on my ‘must-do’ list. I love the story of your duck and it reminds me of how we all seemed to grow up with chest-freezers that were never in the kitchen and always parked in the garage or in some basement taking up an extraordinary amount of space. No one ever knew what was at the bottom of a chest freezer – it was a mystery. I love how you roasted potatoes with your duck. The best way to cook potatoes is absolutely in duck fat xx

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    • Thanks, Charlie. How can you study both Ancient History and Art History and never get to Rome? You really must do something about that. I have to warn you, though. I’m sure you’ll go to Rome and Florence, at least. given your education, you really must. Still, no matter how much time you spend there, it will not be enough — and you’ll wonder what took you so long to get there. Look at it this way. You went to NYC. What’s another 8 hours on a plane — if you’re going the long way — if you get to see the works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, and Caravaggio, to name a few? You have to see them to believe it. Truly.
      And yes, I think the whole reason ducks walk this earth is to provide fat for potatoes. 🙂

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  21. I love that story. That’s something that could have happened in our family. I’ll bet that duck tasted better with every telling of that story. I think back in those days we all had a chest freezer in the basement.

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    • You’re so right, Maureen. If we all live long enough, that duck will become a flock and the family ate duck for years. 😀
      Chest freezers were the LCD TV of their day. Every one just had to have one.

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  22. How funny! We have a big chest freezer and items seem to filter down to the bottom of it and get forgotten from time to time. I do happen to have a duck lurking in there, along with some quail, squid, goat and camel 🙂

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    • Ha! You’ve got a menagerie in there, albeit a cold one. I’ve a smaller one than Mom had and I lined the bottom with bags of ice. It’s one way to limit the amount of food I put into it — and lose. 🙂

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  23. It’s been a long time since I’ve made duck. I love the idea of adding duck fat to the potatoes, then roasting. Yum!!

    Great story about the “sordid act”. But it would be difficult to stay mad at someone who helps themselves to your provisions and then makes a fabulous meal out of it.

    Looking forward to the cookie post!

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    • You know, Ruth, so many have said the same. It’s been ages since they roasted a duck. Same here. Why is that? It is so tasty! Much to the chagrin of Daffy and his kin, I may have re-ignited a duck eating movement with this post. 🙂
      Not to worry. Mom and Zia may have had their disagreements — pilfered poultry notwithstanding — but they were short-lived. The two were as close as could be.

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  24. Duck is one of my favorite dishes John! (Next to pasta, pizza and sushi that is.) I love your preparation. It’s simple and allows the duck flavors and juices to take center stage. Love the story of Zia and the duck – and love the story of her retelling you the story. I like that your family keeps its stories alive. Thank you for sharing them with us too!

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    • Oh, Kristy. Sometimes I think you’re the sibling my Brother said was sold to the circus. Your likes mirror mine, especially with pasta taking the lead. Not to toot my own horn but that was one very good dinner. Wait till you see what we did with the leftovers. YUM!

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      • I can’t wait to see! Duck tacos? I just had duck tacos and they were out of this world. LOL – perhaps I am that sibling that went off to the circus. Sometimes I feel like my life is a circus. (in a good way) 😉 I’ve always joked that I should have been born to an Italian family. No one else in my family shares my tastes. Hmmm. 😉 Perhaps the circus isn’t so far-fetched!

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Very funny. Reminds me of the need to write one’s name on everything as they do in college refrigerators! At least they did in my son’s. He was the only one that cooked so everyone took his food. At least Zia cooked for your mom. I’d let anyone steal my food if they did that. Thanks for the photos, John!

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    • You made me laugh, Abbe. I have containers in my cabinet with Mom’s name written on the bottom from back in the days of the chest freezer. After she passed, I took a couple of them just for the memories. 🙂

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  26. We love roasted duck although we do not eat it very often. This is dish is simply wonderful!
    I won’t comment about Rome because Rome doesn’t need any comment … it speaks to the world for itself with its unique beauty and glory. Plus, I’m kind of biased since it is my hometown! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why is that, Francesca? Everyone has said how much they love it but rarely prepare it. I’m no different. Thank you for you kind works about our preparation.
      I knew you were from Italy but didn’t know that Rome was once your home. I should have talked to you before I left. 🙂
      When traveling with friends, we often wonder what it would be like to live in Rome or Florence, completely ignoring that taking a holiday is completely different than living there. Still, how I would love to walk passed the Colosseum every day on my way to and from work.

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  27. That is truly a picture-perfect roasted duck. It makes me want to dive in and try it, even though I’m not a huge fan of duck! You and the “duck thief” have “done yourselves proud,” as they say. 🙂 I loved seeing your images from Rome. It’s the only part of Italy I’ve spent time in, and really Rome is Rome and Italy is a different thing altogether. I always smile wincingly when I hear someone mention the art collections in the galleries leading to the Sistine Chapel. We were there just before the Jubilee, there was scaffolding everywhere and we spent a good portion of time inside the Vatican. When we headed to the Chapel we had to make a block and come in an unusual way, then suddenly found out that it would close at 2:00, and it was 1:00 already! We literally had to run down the galleries past all these great works of art…pointing and exclaiming over the master works we had to fly by in order to see the Sistine Chapel, which they had just competed cleaning. Not a recommended way to see such a collection!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Betsy. What an awful way to see any art collection but the Vatican? Oh, no! It’s one thing to walk to the opening of one of the galleries and consciously decide to skip it but it’s something else entirely when that choice is taken from you by circumstances. Well, that means you really must go back and tour the Vatican again but, this time, on your own terms. Michelangelo would want you to. 🙂

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  28. Your stories always bring a smile to my face and I am so glad that you have Zia to relive and share these beautiful memories with. My dear mother baked duck as well, not often but likely more often than your family. I will never forget the little bowl of duck fat sitting on the stove waiting for family members to tear off a piece of crusty bread and rub some of the fat onto it (with a generous sprinkling of salt, of course!) Roasting the potatoes in duck fat sounds absolutely decadent and I’m sure it was amazingly delicious. Recently I was at a Loblaws (a standard grocery store in Canada with a high end section) and noticed that they too are selling bottled duck fat. I was tempted to buy it but I resisted…knowing full well it’s full of chemicals for shelf life. Last year, I resolved to bake a duck myself, having never done it, but did not meet my goal so this winter I WILL. With your wonderful instructions I can’t go wrong.
    Thank you too for sharing your Rome photos, that is a place that is still on my bucket list and I really appreciated the views from your wonderful vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eva. I really am glad these posts remind you of your dear Mother and her kitchen. You’re probably right. I bet she prepared duck many more times than did Mom or Zia. I bet it was because there were too many people at the table to serve duck, unless someone wiped out a small flock. 🙂 And then there was Grandpa. He may not have liked it. As it was, he wasn’t a fan of turkey and insisted that capon be served. Zia obliged, stuffing and roasting 2 of the birds every Thanksgiving.
      I think you’re wise to avoid the bottled duck fat. Who knows what else is in that bottle to stabilize the ingredients? I’ve seen it here but, then again, it’s not something I’ve been looking for. I have seen frozen goose fat at one of our high end groceries but that was some time ago. Afterwards, I went back to the store to purchase some but that entire freezer section had been replaced. Apparently, the goose fat went out with the old freezers and I’ve not seen any since. Now, though, who needs goose when there’s duck around?
      I’m glad, too, that you’ve enjoyed the photos. Posting them gives me a chance to relive that trip, something I[ sure to do plenty of times in the months ahead. I really do hope that you and JT will get to see Rome and Italy. There is just so much to see and you’d appreciate it all. And then there’s the food. Oh, my gorgonzola! I’m going back there, no doubt. Let’s see if you two can beat me. 🙂

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      • I adore Italy but have only been to Florence, Milan, Venice and Lake Como (not to visit George, in case you were wondering) so there is still plenty left to see.
        Interestingly enough my dear Mom used to bake goose as well although I’ll be damned if I recall what it tasted like. It’s not popular in Canada.
        Ahhhh, leftovers! I had a duck leg confit left over from a photoshoot and I made Crispy duck in Chinese pancakes, so damn good.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Considering how rare either of us roasts duck, we were both very pleased, April. Using duck fat to roast the potatoes wa an idea that came once I saw so much fat in the pan. How could we let that go to waste?
      When i saw your comment here, I realized that I’ve not been receiving notifications of your posts. Sorry to have “lost” you. I’ll have to be more diligent and check your site regularly until things straighten themselves out.

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  29. What a wonderful post John, loved the story of your Zia (and I can imagine the twinkle in her eye as she tells the stories of the past) 🙂 I will need to reference back to your recipe later and shall try it with the wild game duck that we often get in the fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. With so many living under one roof, there are plenty of chances for eyes to twinkle when stories are told. Zia does enjoy this one. You do get plenty of wild game to prepare. Living here in Chicago, game meats are hard to come by. I do hope that if you try our recipe, you and your family will enjoy it.

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  30. Hahahaa! Oh Zia. What a great story… the generous thief! I’ve only roasted a duck once in my life but it was definitely worth the time and effort. Such delicious meat. Yours looks wonderful, John. Golden skin and a moist interior. I’m drooling at the thought!

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  31. When you said “shared the freezer” I was wondering how the two families kept it straight as to whose food was whose. Of course, it apparently didn’t matter because it all got shared anyway. 🙂 So glad your mother got to taste her own duck. I love duck and as your recipe demonstrates, it doesn’t take much to roast a beautiful duck!

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  32. Pingback: Roast Duck Ravioli | from the Bartolini kitchens

  33. Pingback: Black Rice Risotto with Roast Duck and Porcini Mushrooms | from the Bartolini kitchens

  34. John you forgot to narrate the story about this duck you roasted. Where did it come from? (LOL). I must say it’s a well roasted duck. I wouldn’t mind a drumstick or two. It looks delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I wish there was a quaint story but, alas, I found it on sale at the local grocery. I must admit, though, that having learned how far a single duck can be stretched, I just may buy one at the regular price. Now that would make a real story! 🙂

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