Saturday, October 16, 2010

Overlooked: Duck & Turnips

Sometimes when I am cooking I like to choose the thing that is most overlooked, either in the store or the pantry. The bumpy, lumpy tomato that nobody wanted. The gamey game that seems improbable.

So it was with was duck and turnips. The latter I received as part of my weekly CSA share, and the former is a long time favorite of mine. I am not sure why duck is overlooked by my fellow cooks. It is readily available, grown wild (very difficult to domesticate duck - you can't make them sit around a confined area like you can with other poultry), affordable, and delicious. I find it is no more work than chicken, albeit more fatty, but I for me that is a bonus. I save what is rendered, which has a sweet taste and cooks beans and potatoes (and in this case, turnips) beautifully. Usually I can make fat from 1 duck last for about 3 weeks.

Turnips are a lonely root vegetable. If you can find them at the market, they tend to reside in less desirable shelf space, quietly looking out and waiting to be taken home like lost puppies. They taste like a cross between cabbage and potato, and are full of vitamins. I also like turnips because they are easy to prepare; just peel, chop, and cook.

This week I had a duck in my freezer and turnips in the pantry, and so I went recipe shopping. Julia Child always is my first resort for land of the lost items, and so it was that she had a simple, easy recipe for the 2 of them. I love her simplicity; the recipe has less then 10 ingredients and just 6 key steps to create a tasty dinner for 4. This recipe was part of the Julie/Julia project, and the post is worth a read.

The recipe is presented below for your viewing consideration. Enjoy every bite.

Caneton Poele Aux Navets
(Casserole roasted duck with turnips)

A 5 1/2 lb ready to cook ducking
1/2 tsp + 1 /2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
4 parsley sprigs + 2 - 3 tbsp minced parsley
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
2 lbs crisp white or yellow turnips

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Season the inside of the duck with salt and pepper, truss it, prick the skin around the thighs, back, and lower part of the breast. Dry it thoroughly. Brown it slowly on all sides in the heated olive oil. Use a heavy, oval casserole for this - Le Creuset is ideal.
  3. Pour out the browning fat. Salt the duck and place it breast up in the casserole. Add the herbs (place them in cheese cloth or an infuser), cover the casserole, and and place in the oven (mid level). Roast for 50 - 60 minutes.
  4. While the duck is cooking, peel the turnips and cut into thin ovals. Drop into boiling, salted water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
  5. After the duck has roasted for 50 - 60 minutes, degrease the casserole with a baster. Arrange the turnips around the duck and return it to the oven. Baste occasionally. Cook for another 30 - 40 minutes.
  6. Drain the duck, place on a hot platter, and serve with parsley sprinkled on top.


  1. Sounds really good! I wish I could get into a CSA share! Let's have a potluck soon!

  2. It was a wonderful dinner to come home to on Friday - really delicious.