Herbal Recipes for a Holiday Feast: Potted Muscovy Duck with Sweet Marjoram and Elderberries

Wow your family and friends with this gourmet duck recipe.

| December/January 1994

Serves 8 to 10 

The sweetness of dark, rich Muscovy duck and marjoram are accented with the dry tang of elderberries in this rustic pâté. Elderberries grow abundantly in my backyard; slightly sweetened cranberries would make an interesting substitute. This dish can be made three to four days ahead and kept refrigerated.

• 1 Muscovy duck, about 4 pounds
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sweet marjoram
• 1 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice
• 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
• 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1/2 cup brandy
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup fresh or frozen ripe elderberries
• Sprig of sweet marjoram for garnish

1. Split the duck in half. Season it inside and out with the garlic, marjoram, 1 teaspoon each allspice and nutmeg, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper. Place it in a roasting pan, skin side down. Sprinkle it with the onion. Pour the brandy and water over it. Cover the pan and bake at 300°F 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones.

2. Remove the duck from the oven and let it cool slightly. Strain the stock, skim off the fat, and reserve. Remove the meat from the bones and place it in a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon each allspice and nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and shred the meat with two forks. Pour in 3/4 cup reserved stock and the elderberries, mix lightly, and pack the duck into a glass or porcelain dish.

3. Top with a sprig of fresh marjoram and drizzle on a little more stock. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve at cool room temperature with Herb Crackers or crisp flatbread.

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