Friday, February 3, 2012

Bon Appétit Comes to the Rescue with Old Recipe for Valentine's Day

Back when Gail and I were newlyweds, we made a special Valentine's dinner that has become a cherished memory based on a Bon Appétit recipe for rose scented duck. This meal was an event for us. Pre-internet, we had to search for rose water, which is an intensely beautiful thing to cook with. We skipped the roses in the recipe. We recall that we also made pink peppercorn pasta with a pink champagne reduction sauce. We had to search for pink peppercorns, too. Other years, we substituted new potatoes cut into mushroom shapes for the pasta.

This is the first meal either of us had cooked with an intense reduction sauce, and we were awed at the technique. It may have been the meal that nurtured our enjoyment of cooking together.

Through the years and a couple of houses, we lost the magazine with the recipe. Gail tried to get it on microfiche at the library, but no luck. So she wrote to Bon Appitit in hopes that they might have it. Today we got this great response from reader services.
Dear Gail,

Thank you for writing to Bon Appétit, and we are happy to help with your Valentine’s Day cooking. The recipe you requested is original from February 1988. It reads as follows:

Rose-Scented Roast Duck
2 Servings

1 4½ lb. duck
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
½ tsp. ground white pepper
2¼ tsp. rose water
4 small roses

3 T rich chicken stock
3 T well-chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 fresh rose petals

  1. Generously season the duck both inside and out with salt and pepper. Gently slide fingers between duck skin and meat over breasts, legs, and thighs, forming pockets. Rub ½ t white pepper under skin. Rub 1 t rosewater under skin. Sprinkle ½ t into cavity. Rub ½ t over skin.
  2. Rinse roses. Remove petals and reserve centers. Stuff petals under duck skin in a single layer. Fill cavity with remaining petals and flower centers. Truss the duck and chill overnight, wrapped in plastic.
  3. Quarter duck, reserving rose petals. Trim visible fat and excess skin from duck. Pierce skin all over with fork. Season with salt and pepper and allow to rest at room temp for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 450. Arrange duck leg in pieces in baking dish, skin side up. Roast 25 minutes. Turn legs over. Mound reserved rose petals in pan. Top with duck breasts, skin side up. Roast 10 minutes; turn breasts over; roast 5 more minutes for medium-rare.
  5. Remove breast meat from bones in single pieces. Cut each into 9 slices, reserving juices. Fan breasts on plates and arrange leg pieces. Tent with foil to keep warm.
  6. Add duck juices to measuring cup. Add enough stock to equal ¼ C. Pour into heavy small saucepan. Add remaining ¼ t rose water. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Mix in 4 rose petals. Drizzle over duck meat and garnish with remaining rose petals.
Note: use only roses that have been grown without pesticides.

Happy Cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Bon Appétit Reader Services
Thank you Bon Appétit Reader Services. We're so happy to have this recipe again. We will be making it on Valentine's day. We already have the rose water.

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