September 13, 2006

Tuesday- DUCK

This game of duck, duck goose, starts with a love of horses. Patricia and Guillaume wanted to create a life that would indulge their passion for the long legged elegant creatures, so they turned to the flat-footed, feathered variety of farmyard friends.

So when the FCI Four announced their intention to consume as much foie gras as possible in this “Week in Gascony”, they didn’t realize how easy it would be in Southwest France to have duck, duck, or goose at every meal. Best of all here, in the heart of Gascony, small artisan poultry farms pepper the patchwork landscape from the Garonne River to the Pyrenees; to steep oneself in the foie gras culture we need only go down road and over the river to Vianne and Patricia Lamarouche’s farm, Puymartin.

We arrived at Puymartin just after the plucking and clean-up of a dozen fat tête rouge or Muscovy ducks. Prized for their flavorful fatted liver and beef-like meat, one duck would provide us with a menu of different recipes.

A déclinaison of DUCK:
grilled magret stuffed with foie gras
a wine-rich civet de canard
cœur de canard en brochette
foie gras en terrine
duck fat
grilled demoiselles or duck ribs

In her white tiled workshop, Patricia wields a sharp narrow knife like an extra digit and shows how the gutted carcass is divested of its manteau or cloak. The meaty breasts with legs and wings still attached are carved expertly off the rib cage in one piece. Then with surgical precision, she separates the back from front, trims the duck steaks (magrets), arranges the cuisses or legs, dices the fat and skin for rendering and presents us with a completed butchered duck in less time than it took me to write this paragraph.

Next, we choose from a tray of wrapped livers a small fresh foie gras to slip between the skin and the meat of the breasts before grilling and a jar of foie gras entire to serve on thick slabs of toasted bread. Rillettes, terrines, dried sausage, even duck chorizo are seasoned by Patricia’s expert hand. Her unerring palate is the reason there is always a line at the Lavardac market under her green umbrella. By 11:30 on a brisk market morning, the rabbits, ducks, and chickens that fill her refrigerated market case have all jumped into waiting baskets to join the farm fresh produce and fruit that completes a Gascon menu. No "Week in Gascony" is complete without this Tuesday’s child so full of grace. Merci, Patricia!

Guillaume DILHAN et Patricia LAMAROUCHE.
Adresse:, Puymartin,
Code postal:, 47230
City:, Vianne

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