Cookbook:Stuffed breast of duck
Stuffed breast of duck
A traditional Austrian dish for the festive season 
Almost every Austrian family has its own Christmas tradition. On 24 December some families might run off to get the last presents, while others might go for a contemplative Christmas walk, attend church or engage in other activities. Christmas Eve also differs from family to family; however, as far as Christmas dinner is concerned, there seems to be less difference among Austrians. According to surveys, “Bratwürstl mit Sauerkraut”, roast duck or goose, “Raclette”, fondue, pheasant, goulash, and carp are among the most favorite Christmas Eve dishes.
I have many Austrian friends and relatives who cannot imagine Christmas without the delicious aroma of a succulent roast duck floating in the air. Nor can I recall any Christmas in my family without having this traditional winter dish. In general, Austrians are always really fond of eating duck.
Honestly, I have a strong trepidation of butchering meat, disemboweling animals, or any other action related to this unpleasant business. Unfortunately, duck, when bought fresh at a market, often has the head and extremities still attached and they need to be removed. Nowadays, butchering animals for food appears barbaric to us since we are kept away from the act of killing animals as far as possible. Meat is presented to look like an animal as little as possible in order to make us forget the killing process. But this year I decided to face my phobia as it had already been festering for too long, and I was determined to prepare the Christmas duck with everything that it demands.
Another fact that did not really encourage me is that I am not a good cook. I have a long history of ruining meals, and I already envisioned our kitchen full of smoke, the duck burnt, and us having to order pizza. However, the thought of eating a crispy duck roast with lots of gravy gave me the strength to accept the challenge.
Roasting a duck is a rather time-consuming activity that can turn the most silent time of the year into a quite stressful one for the cook as expectations in a culinary delicacy are always very high. Given that Christmas should be a happy feast for everybody - also for those preparing the meal - it is always helpful to invite family members or guests to come to the kitchen and help you prepare dinner. It is also recommended to start early enough and to consider that dishes prepared in advance will reduce stress later. With this good advice in mind I undertook the preparation of our Christmas duck.
Being occasionally helped by both my granny and my mother – three women in a single kitchen can be very stressful – I tried my best to prepare our festive family dinner. Contrary to what I had actually expected, it turned out quite well, and I think I would fearlessly make duck again since it is not as difficult as it seems. But now it is up to you to try my duck recipe!
|Stuffed breast of duck|
|Servings||4 - 6|
|Time||prep: 1 hr, cooking: 2 1/2 hrs|
- 1 fresh duck, about 2,5 kg
- salt and pepper
- 50 g butter
- 1 tbsp marjoram or other herbs
- 4-5 peeled apples
Preheat the oven to 200°C and make sure to bring the duck to room temperature before roasting it. If not already done, disembowel the duck, remove the clumps of fat from the tail and rinse it carefully. As a next step, grease the bird with butter all over and season it generously inside and out with salt, pepper and marjoram. Then stuff the duck with the peeled apples and make sure to close it appropriately. This will give a wonderful taste to the finished dish. Put the duck breast-side up into a roasting pan that is deep enough to hold the occurring fat and roast it at 230°C for around 15 minutes. Take out the duck, baste it, turn it breast-side down, and roast for another 15 minutes. Continue to do so every 15 minutes. It takes roughly an hour to roast 1kg; thus, you may prepare yourself to leave the duck in the oven for about 2 ½ hours. The duck is ready to be served when its skin is richly browned and crisp. In order to obtain a crispy skin, put some more butter on the duck 20 minutes before the end of the roasting process. Turn off the oven and let the duck rest for another 10 minutes. Remove the apples before serving it, carve the bird as you desire, and put the dark brown gravy into an extra cup.
Side dishes 
- 1 head of cabbage, shredded
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups white vinegar
- 1 tsp. of salt
Put the shredded cabbage and the minced onion into a large bowl. Combine vinegar, salt and sugar in a separate bowl and pour the mixture over the cabbage. Cover the salad and refrigerate it for several hours before serving.
Bread dumplings, also known as serviettenknödeln, are a very old Austrian dish. “Semmeln” is the German word for dinner rolls. Usually, these dumplings are served as a side dish with roasts or with pork, and a sauce.
- 4 stale rolls, cut into small cubes
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 5 g melted butter
- green parsley
Put the the bread cubes into a large bowl and pour milk over them; use more or less milk depending on how dry the bread is. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and mix it with the eggs and the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Use your hands and squeeze the dough through your fingers until it is smooth and sticky. If the dough is too loose, add one or two tablespoons of flour to firm it up. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and form small portions of the dough into balls. Drop the dumplings carefully into the water and let them simmer for about 30 minutes until they are light, firm, and well risen. Remove them with a large spoon and serve them hot!
Form the dough into a roll, wrap it into a wet dishtowel, and firmly tie up both ends. Then put it into a pot of boiling saltwater and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the dough from the dishtowel, cut it into generous slices, and arrange them nicely on the plate.
Wine to go along with the duck
A rule that you might consider is that white wine usually goes with white meat and red wine with red meat. Therefore, a fruity red wine would go well with duck. My family often has a bottle of Zweigelt with this traditional winter treat.
Enjoy your meal!
Mostar, Katinka: Das Große Katinka Mostar Kochbuch, Suedwest Verlag: Muenchen 1978.
Müller, Anna; Walser, Holger: Mein erstes Kochbuch, Vorarlberger Verlagsanstalt Ges.m.b.H: Dornbirn 1970.