To all four of my gentlemen readers out there, I hope you’ve realized by now that Valentine’s Day is less than one week away. The chances of snagging a restaurant reservation are dwindling away with every passing minute, so you need to start thinking of a way to woo your special lady pronto (or ladies, vice versa if you don’t trust your husband in the kitchen…I understand).
I cannot help but reminisce on some of my past Valentine’s Day dates with my forever-Valentine. There was the time he told me we were eating dinner in the college dining hall and drove me to a fancy-pants pre-fixe dinner in downtown Greenville, SC.
There was also the time he drove me around the block a few times, went through the Jack in the Box drive-thru asking for chicken pesto (they were incredibly confused by this request), and pulled back in front of his dorm room where he had a warm, dorm-cooked meal awaiting us in his tiny single room on his fraternity's hall (silverware and plates ‘borrowed’ from the school’s dining hall of course). While it wasn’t the most epicurean meal I’ve consumed, the sentiment was certainly there and appreciated by yours truly.
And, most recently, there was the time we went to Waffle House for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I set foot and actually ate dinner at Corsicana’s very own Waffle House. We brought our own candle (which they refused to light, even just for a picture!), I ate eggs and sausage, and it was actually most enjoyable.
With all of that said, I’ve realized over the years I’m just as content sitting in my sweats on the couch with my husband eating our own grilled filets and drinking our own wine (sigh…) as going out and dropping $100+ on the holiday itself.
So if you’re like me and would rather not deal with the crowds and expensiveness of Valentine’s Night Out, have I got an easy (though not quick) dinner that will knock the socks of your someone special.
And I promise you do not have to be a Julie Childs-level chef to prepare this meal. You just need the ability to follow my instructions, a few hours of duck babysitting, and, of course, a 4 pound duck.
When I go out to dinner, I always try to select an option that I couldn’t fix myself. Rarely to I order any type of pork, chicken, or shrimp since those are items that are in my wheelhouse.
Instead, I prefer to seek out the more exotic menu items, like the elk tenderloin, Chilean sea bass, and, my all-time favorite, duck breast or leg or, if they’re smart, both.
Sure, these exotic items usually are more expensive than the roasted chicken or shrimp pasta, but that’s kinda the idea behind going out to dinner- to eat something you couldn’t fix yourself.
But gang, I’ve now figured out how to fix one of these high dollar menu items all by myself! Instead of spending $30-40 for one duck breast with a few ounces of duck confit, I spent $12 on an ENTIRE duck (thanks Narnia of grocery stores…aka Aldi) that provided me with two breasts, two legs and thighs, as well as an entire carcass that I plan on making some magical stock from.
On my first go around with cooking duck, I’d call it a huge success! All you need to do is salt that bird, roast him for 3-4 hours flipping him on his back to tummy, let him rest for a few minutes, and simmer down some flavorful yummies in a saucepan while the duck settles down.
And you may be debating whether the extra few minutes of sauce-making is worth it. Trust me, y’all, it is. I could have eaten it with a spoon straight from the pan, though that would have scorched the roof of my mouth and seared off my taste buds for the next 72 hours.
Yes, my friends, this recipe does take some time to come together, BUT all you have to do is flip it every hour and in the last thirty minutes crank up the temperature. Don't let the daunting cooking time intimidate you. Good things come to those who wait.
Never had duck? I can't think of a better recipe to start with. Like other poultry, the legs are much more tender and juicy than the breasts, but the whole bird is like a more delicious, flavorful chicken.
If you have a hard time tracking down a whole duck, you could easily roast a chicken instead and still make the magical sauce.
This weekend or next week, there's no reason to endure the overcrowded, overpriced restaurants, especially when you can whip up a fancy-pants meal like this for your family or special someone. Or, if you're rocking Valentine's Day as a party of one, that is NO reason to stop you from making this for yourself. You deserve it.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!