Guest Blog by: Midge
Before my mother became a newlywed, she decided to make an elaborate, special meal for my father. After all, the old English Proverb, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, seemed applicable. Cooking for her husband to be would be a good way to show off her culinary skills. She found a recipe which included a simple list of ingredients as well as an orange powdered drink mix which tasted similar to the Tang drink mix I used to drink as a child (they were called funny face drink mixes). It was Duck a l’Orange (or Duck a la Tang) and she knew it would be a sure way to woo my father’s taste buds.
The thing about trying out recipes for the first time is that they sometimes don’t work out the way you expected. Using the drink mix seemed like a clever inexpensive idea yet whomever had written this recipe down must have forgotten an additional ingredient or two! The presentation was beautiful and the taste was out of this world inedible! The good news is my father and mother still got married (even after this culinary fiasco) but, when pressed, will share that this meal was one of the worst in their entire married life.
To honor my parents, who will be having their 45th wedding anniversary this September, I decided to prepare Duck a l’orange (without using Tang!) for my husband’s Valentine’s Day dinner. I found this Duck a l’Orange recipe and was hopeful my experience would turn out a bit different than my parents.
Since buying the duck was a bit on the expensive side ($18 for a VERY skinny duck), I tried to save money by selecting a recipe which would not require purchasing extra ingredients. I was able to find most of the ingredients in my cupboard and refrigerator, although I did end up buying a few odds and ends at the store, like peach preserves and sage leaves. Amazingly, I had mango chutney in the refrigerator from a past recipe this Christmas.
Cooking the duck was a bit easier than I expected. I sprinkled the seasonings onto the duck, according to the directions, cut into the skin as required and stuffed the inside of the duck full of apple slices. Cooking duck was similar to cooking a chicken but the meat is a deeper color which made me pause for a moment and freak out a bit inside (What had I got myself into!). The recipe also states you could cook it for less time for a rare duck ~ rare duck? I am not really a rare meat eating kind of gal, so I cooked it for the ultimate length of time just to be on the safe side.
The sauce came next and required some red wine. This was also one of the purchases I had to make at the store. I actually had to ask the clerk at the grocery store to recommend the type of wine to buy in order to make this sauce. She shared there was also a red cooking wine you could use as a replacement.
When the duck was done cooking, I think it shrunk. Seriously, there was just not a lot of meat on this skinny duck! I thought I would be cutting into a nice succulent piece of meat and have plenty to share with my husband plus bountiful leftovers. Nice try Midge! But nope, it was definitely not the case! It was also very tough to cut and I believe in my effort to ensure it was not “rare”, I most likely overcooked it. It then became a tough, skinny duck which you definitely did not want to mess with!
While our first taste of the duck meat was just “so so”, the addition of the orange sauce was PURE decadence. I felt like I was eating a meal at a fancy restaurant in the midst of waiters in suits and ties with a lady in the corner singing opera music. Okay, maybe I took that analogy too far! But, it was wonderful!
Mom and Dad ~ You guys are coming over to my house in September for some Duck a l’Orange!! And if you would like, I will serve you up some Tang to drink just for a walk down memory lane.
What is the fanciest meal that you have ever tried to make? Did it turn out well? Have you ever had to throw out a complete meal because it was awful? I know I have had to a time or two!