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Happy birthday, Rex Stout! December 1, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Duck, Wolfe recipe.
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It’s simple: If there were no Rex Stout, there’d be no Nero Wolfe. And if there were no Nero Wolfe, we wouldn’t have many brilliant books to enjoy, and I wouldn’t have had a reason to start this blog. It is therefore only fitting to celebrate his birthday, on December 1st.

As Nero Wolfe – and perhaps Rex Stout himself – did not seem to be big dessert eaters, I decided it was more fitting to celebrate by cooking one of Nero Wolfe’s favourite foods – duck. Here I have something in common with Nero Wolfe as duck is also one of my favourite foods! I decided to make duck with Spanish sauce as a suitable celebratory dish.

Preparing the duck was simple. I pricked the skin with a knife in quite a few places to allow the fat to drain out while cooking, added salt and pepper, covered it with foil and placed it in the oven for an hour.

After an hour, I took it out and drained the fat off (which I kept – duck fat is fantastic for cooking potatoes in) and poured some apple cider over the duck, and placed it back in the oven this time with the foil removed. I had to then baste the duck every 15 minutes with the cider.

While the duck was continuing to cook, I set about making the sauce. The first step was to make the tomato sauce. I used a mixture of fresh and tinned tomatoes because the fresh ones were not very juicy. I added onion, parsley and cloves and simmered it all together.

While the tomatoes were simmering, I began the rest of the sauce by preparing the livers. The recipe instructed me to reserve the livers from my duck but unfortunately my duck came without livers. I bought some chicken livers to use instead which meant I had more livers in my sauce. To me this was not a bad thing!

Anyway, I first cooked the livers in butter with some anchovies until they were browned.

When they were cooked, I removed them from the pan and added some minced onions, and then mushrooms. While they were cooking, I chopped the livers finely. I next added some flour and then the (now strained) tomato sauce, some tomato paste, paprika and a good quantity of sherry. When this had all cooked for a while and had thickened a bit, I added the liver back to the sauce.

By this time, the duck had been out of the oven for a few minutes and was resting. I carved it and served it with a generous serving of the sauce.

This was certainly an acceptable meal for a birthday celebration! The duck was very juicy inside and perfectly cooked, while the skin was all crispy and delicious. I was surprised to note that the apple cider could actually be tasted, and it added a nice hint of sweetness to the duck without overpowering it. The sauce was also fantastic and to be honest had so much flavour it would have worked well as a pasta sauce in its own right! The combination of the livers, mushrooms and onions paired so well with the duck, adding to the almost gamey flavour that duck has, and providing a great contrast to the duck.

I hope all of you enjoy celebrating Rex Stout’s birthday today, and continue to read his books for many years to come!

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