How Do You Stretch a Duck?

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.

Here’s Daffy after a few hours in the smoker.

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!

Smoked Duck and Leek Packets with Autumn Olive Sauce.


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