Friday, March 4, 2016

Flashback Thursday.

This is the book our family did as a 90th birthday present for my father, Arlington Adkins.
The house in the background of the photo is a log cabin, with lots of rooms upstairs, great for sleep-overs and it had a large attic for dancing...  The porch ran all the way around the house, but we only screened half of it, and the kitchen was 20x20 with lots of room for the wood stove Mom loved.

That's Dad on the tractor, so this photo must have been taken after I married, as before that it was my chore to cut the grass...

Here's Mom's recipe for one of Dad's favorite dishes. Sorry she never measured anything much...

Roast Mallard Duck with Sweet Potatoes and Gravy

At least two Mallard Ducks (1 for Arlie and 1 for everyone else)  4 to 6 if there is company.

Pick and clean the ducks, remove any visible shot, and soak them in a tub on the back porch overnight in salted water to draw out the fishy taste. Mallards are not usually as fishy as other ducks, but can be fishy inspring, if they have been feeding on minnows. 

After Breakfast the next morning, keep fire going in the wood stove, so the oven will stay hot, 

Get Arline to wash the dishes while I make the pies, I have preserved apples, peaches, and plums that I canned last summer. Heat the stove back up with some extra wood, and put them in the oven. 

Wash 6 sweet potatoes with a brush, (scrub hard to remove all sand). When dry, rub them all with  butter or lard (butter tastes best) put them on a cookie sheet, If there is company, fix two cookie sheets and when the pies come out, set them on a shelf to cool and put your sweet potatoes in the oven.  

Make up your light (yeast) bread dough and set it to rise. Cover with a teatowel and set it on the shelf  behind the stove.

Send Arline out to discard the soaking water and wash the tub and all the ducks thoroughly with the hose, before bringing them inside the house. While she's outside, get some frozen lima beans out of the freezer and set them on the back of the stove to cook for a side dish. Fry up some bacon and open a couple of jars of canned squash add them to the bacon and set that skillet on the back of the stove to heat.

In the kitchen, wash the ducks again with "clean" water from the sink and place in large open baking pan, with a wire rack underneath. (Two pans if there are more ducks and if company is coming. Brush the skins with melted butter and put half a peeled white potato inside each duck. This, too, will help remove any remaining fish taste Salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, they will have absorbed some from the soaking. You can always add more at the table if needed.

Wash your hands again and check on the sweet potatoes.  If they are not soft when you touch them, give them 15 more minutes, and maybe put some more wood in the stove... (If the hunters were especially lucky, wrap any extra ducks in alluminum foil, then again with freezer paper, and place leftover ducks in freezer.

Punch down the bread, so it will have time to rise again, before it's needed. cover and replace on the shelf.

When the sweet potatoes come out, put them in serving bowls and place them in the warming oven at the top of the stove. Wash your cookie sheets, so they will be handy to bake your hot rolls on.

Your ducks should be all ready and waiting to go in the oven.  If there are two pans add an extra stick of wood so the oven stays nice and warm for them. 

Roast your ducks in a med oven (350) until ducks are done and skin is crispy. They will be done in an hour or so... depending on how many you have and how much they weigh.Skinny ducks roast much more quickly and will dry out if left in there too long. Put the roasting pan on the cool side of the stove to stay warm.

Work your bread dough into rolls and put them on a cookie sheet (leave room between so they can rise agaon), Cover them and set them to rise for the last time.

Put a deep iron skillet on the fire to heat. I usually take the stovelid right off, so the fire kisses the skillet bottom.  Add a couple spoonsfull or lard or butter and a handful of flour to make a roux. More flour if you like your gravy thick. More fat if the flour is too dry... Spoon some of the duck drippings from the bottom the baking pan into a small clear pitcher.  Set it on the sink to cool and separate.

Keep an eye on your roux and give it a stir now and then until the fat is all melted and the flour starts to turn brown. syand over it and stir aplenty. When it's good and brown, put the stovelid back where it belongs and set the roux to stay warm on the back of the stove.

Work your bread dough and shape it  into rolls on a cookie sheet and set them to rise for the last time.

Get your pitcher of dripping and skim off a lot of the duck fat (it will have risen to the top, too much duck flavor can make the gravy taste "gamey" or even "fishy."  I save the duck fat to add to the dog's food the next morning, but most folks just throw it away... Add about a quart of warm water to the pitcher with the remaining duck dripping and set aside. 

Check the fire. If it is starting to burn down give it two or three new sticks of wood and a good poke, because you need a good hot (400) oven to bake the rolls.

When the fire is burning up good, don't even put the stovelid back, but set your roux directly on the hor fire.

Check your rolls and if they're risen put them in the oven.

When the roux is hot and bubbling, add the dripping and water mixture from the pitcher and stir constantly while it heats and thickens. When it's good and bubbling hot uou'll have nice thick gravey. Set the skillet on the back of the stove and replace the stove lid.

Call Arline to wash the pitcher and set the table.

Set your ducks on a serving platter (remove the white potatoes from inside and throw them AWAY!). Slice the breasts and cut the rest into serving-size pieces. 

Put your done limas in a nice bowl or tureen. Put some gravy in the gravy boat and get Arline to set them on the table with the sweet potatoes, and call everyone.  Check to see if the rolls are brown and ready...

Put nice thick a teatowel on the breadbasket.  Take the rolls out of the oven and pile them in the basket. Cover and set them on the table piping hot!

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