Packed with big flavor but little meat, the duck backs, necks, and wings were perfect for making Duck Soup with Ginger and Star Anise. From experience I knew roasted poultry made a richer broth, and the recipe I was working from started with a roast Peking duck carcass, so before simmering the parts, I roasted them, after which I dumped them into a pool of chicken broth and water and earthy things like dried mushrooms, gingerroot, peppercors, and bay leaves and simmered it for about forty-five minutes. Slater’s recipe didn’t call for the star anise, but I tossed in a couple and liked their flavor contribution very much.
After straining the broth and letting the parts cool, I picked off the little bit of meat from the back and neck and chopped up the giblets. At this point, the meat and broth can be squirrel in the fridge for several days. When you’re ready to serve, sauté the meat with garlic and scallions, and then simmer it with a little sweet and sour vinegar and brown sugar. On it’s own, this sweet and sour meat mix is intense, but when diluted in the broth it adds subtle, but distinct flavor.
Before serving the soup Slater wilts bok choy leaves in the broth, but since I was roasting Brussels sprouts for the duck breast course, I used their outer leaves as the garnish.
This course was similar in flavor and sweetness to the Mock Peking Duck so we continued with the 2008 Kistler Vine Hill Chardonnay. Duck Liver Pate with Fig-Raisin Compote is up tomorrow.
Duck Soup with Ginger and Star Anise
Serves 8 (one cup servings)
Inspiration for this soup came BBC Food. Nigel Slater shares with readers (there’s a short video too) how to make a flavorful broth from a Peking duck carcass.
Backs, necks, giblets (excluding liver) wing tips, and outer wing joints of 2 ducks
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus a little extra for sauteing
1 quart chicken broth
1 ounce dried mushrooms
2 thumb size pieces of fresh ginger, sliced into coins
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
A handful of Brussels sprout leaves
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place duck pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat, arranging pieces in a single layer. Roast duck pieces until well browned, turning them once about halfway through cooking, 35 to 45 minutes.
Turn duck pieces into a large pot; add broth, mushrooms, ginger, peppercorns, bay leaves, star anise and 1 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, partially covered, until broth is rich and flavorful, about 45 minutes. Strain broth; and when meat is cool enough to handle, cut giblets into small dice and pull meat from neck, back and wings; set aside (Broth, meat, and giblets can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days in advance)
When ready to serve, return broth to a simmer. Heat a splash of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and scallions; saute until soft and fragrant, a couple of minutes. Add sugar, vinegar and duck meat; cook to thicken and intensify flavors, a couple of minutes longer. Just before ladling into bowls, drop Brussels sprouts leaves into the soup. Spoon a portion of the duck mixture in each of 8 small bowls. Ladle in broth and serve immediately.