Duck a la Presse
There are only a few places in the world that serve Duck a la Presse, including La Tour d’Argent in Paris, Otto’s in London, Daniel in New York City, and my house down in Texas. My father bought the duck press some thirty years ago. Last time my husband and I were home they brushed off the brass, ordered ducks and about 50 lbs of duck fat from D’Artagnan (www.dartagnan.com), and started pressing. I can’t boil water, but I can watch, so as follows (vegetarians be warned):
The process actually begins some few days prior to cooking. We liquidated three ducks and reduced the stock down to about one cup, to which we added Marsala, Brandy and Madeira.
The day itself you begin by partially roasting a whole duck. We scored the skin and cooked it for about ten minutes in our wood-burning bread oven. You then chop it up (carnage will ensue—I’m still cleaning duck off of the ceiling) put the breasts aside to finish roasting, and put the rest into the press. You twist the wheel to extract the juice, and may need a few hands to twist the press, hold it and catch the juice in a pan. You add the juice and, traditionally, the duck liver to the sauce to thicken it, reduce it further, and pour it over the finished breasts to serve!
It may not be a process for the faint of heart or the short-of-time, and a duck press may not be your average kitchen utensil, but the effort is more than worth the product. We served it with puffed potatoes cooked in duck fat. The sauce was good enough to drink.