We have a little bitty Farmers Market in town, and a larger, growing one in Johnson City, and a decent one in nearby Jonesborough. It makes me happy to see them growing. But on occasion, Mr. Dewey and I will drive across the mountains, over the state line, and into Abingdon, to their Saturday morning Farmers Market. We make a day out of it – bracketing it with brekkist at Zazzy’z and a nice walk on the Creeper Trail with Chester. In addition to produce, they have craftspeople selling their wares and a larger selection of locally raised, free-range meats and poultry.
One day a few years ago, in early Autumn, I purchased a frozen duck from a farmer who raises heirloom varieties. It was pricey – $28 for a 3 pound bird. But I wanted to give it a try. I like duck. My sister, Karin, raised Muscovies on her farm in Wisconsin. They were delicious; moist but not greasy, and with a flavor more exotic than chicken or turkey, but not musky. So home we went with our duck and a few other fun things.
So, now that I had a 3-pound bird, what would I do with it? Sure, I could simply roast it, or grill it, and have dinner, but in one meal, the duck would be gone. I wanted to stretch it out a bit. And, being newly graced with a smoker, which I had gotten in trade for an extra iPod stereo player we had, I decided to give that method a go. With 5 apple trees, we had the perfect wood at hand. After the duck was smoked, I carved it and wrapped it in phyllo dough, layered with some sautéed leeks from the garden. Baked in a hot oven just long enough to give the phyllo a crisp, brown exterior, I had a dozen lovely packets. Served with a salad or light soup, my duck would be stretched out to 3 meals for Mr. Dewey and I.
My last adventure related to the duck was to create a sauce for the packets. Feta cheese comes to mind whenever phyllo dough is mentioned, but I wanted something that would complement, not override the flavor of that applewood smoked meat. It just so happened that I had made another exploratory purchase at the Farmers Market: Autumn Olives. Also known as Autumnberries, they grow wild in the mountain forests all around us, and are considered a bit of a nuisance plant. It was simple enough to cook them down and run them through a sieve, adding just a little sugar and some lemon juice to preserve their bright color. A sauce was born!
We keep missing the duck guy when we go to Abingdon, so I have not repeated this meal since that first adventure. But the next time we see him, we will get his card!