Corona Cookbook: Duck and Red Cabbage

Traditional Christmas Dinner

By: - Dec 26, 2020

Peal and slice two apples.

It’s been fun to share with friends and neighbors descriptions of holiday dinners.

A surprising number ordered takeout.

Not just the usual Chinese food and a movie. There were none of the latter as theaters are closed and now movies get releases on streaming services.

There were challenges this year to follow old traditions or invent new ones.

We were surprised that a couple of friends created variations on beef stew. That’s close to Astrid’s goulash but there are some variations she wants to try.

Lobster seemed to be a big item. My goomah, Linda, swears by air frying butterflied tails. My buddy Irving whipped it up as a risotto.

As previously posted, we had cataplana for Christmas Eve. For Christmas the menu was roast duck a l’orange and Astrid’s family recipe for red cabbage.

I had the duck in the oven at 350 by 2:30. It was done and resting three hours later. Astrid started chopping cabbage around three.

The table was set festively with colorful, inventive decorations.

For the holidays our loft is awash with color and twinkling lights.

A friend tipped us off that there was fresh goose at Stop & Shop.

That proved not to be true but we opted for a fresh duck.

We have done goose in the past and will try again perhaps next year

But duck and red cabbage were perfectly matched with a touch of sweetness.

Lets start with the duck.

The cavity was washed and the carcass sanitized.

I inserted a nice big orange and an onion in the fowl.

Light soy sauce and orange juice were poured over the bird.

There were checks each hour and fat poured off.

It came to a full quart which was saved. Not exactly healthy it’s tasty for cooking. Europeans add apples and spices, especially with goose fat, and make a condiment to spread on crackers and toast. My cardiologist, however, does not approve.

Once the duck was nicely brown and crispy we checked internal temp which was about 180 degrees. Most of the fat was rendered and the meat was nicely tender.

Then I made the sweet orange sauce.

It’s different every time so there is no real recipe. More a matter of what’s on hand at the time.

Pan dripping are scraped into a sauce pan. To that I added orange juice, generously, several spoons of chutney. In this case mango ginger. Then the last of a bottle of port, the last drops of some Remy Martin, a splash of white wine and limoncello. The latter just because it was there.

The sauce was reduced to cook off alcohol and concentrate flavors. It came out real good and was lavished over the duck meat and sweet potatoes.

From my cellar I chose a 2013 Barollo which was rich in tannin. It’s a hearty flavorful wine. Astrid took a small taste for a holiday toast. She also likes a bit of port now and then and bought a nice vintage Dow for us to share on winter nights.

Red Cabbage

This is Astrid’s domain. I observed and photographed.

Start with chopping a head of red cabbage. Some she saved as a topping for salads.

Onion was chopped and softened in duck fat and olive oil as it was handy and flavorful. Water was added to cover the bottom with cabbage on top. The final layer entailed slices of apple.

It varies but this time she stuck in a couple of sticks of cinnamon and nuggets of whole pieces of nutmeg.

That was removed and discarded after cooking. Just cook the red cabbage until it is soft; don't cook it to mush!

Sweet and sour are essential with options for white and red vinegar as well as fresh lemon juice and lemon extract. Finally, a dash of sugar or honey.

All of this is turned and cooked down. Best to do this ahead of time as the mixture improves in a day or so.

Astrid also made a condiment cooking fresh cranberries with orange, orange jest, and added juice.

We sat at a beautifully decorative holiday table.

Being home alone, together, sharing an exotic meal was just fine.