Friday 10 April 2015

Stop the press! Enjoy the flavours...

One of the items we have down here that extracts (if you'll pardon the pun) some of the most quizzical looks, is the duck press.
Pressed duck being served at Paris’s La Tour D’Argent (Courtesy of La Tour D’Argent) Image via.
Invented in France in the 1800’s by a chef called Mechenet, it was a machine created to extract every bit of duckiness from your bird.

First served up at the Tour d’Argent in Paris it soon made its way to fashionable Edwardian London where people clamoured to be the first to try Caneton de Rouen a la Presse or, Duck in Blood Sauce to you and me. At the Tour d’Argent this was to become their signature dish while over at the Savoy in London the famed chef Escoffier gave the British a taste of the macabre.

The press itself, does look like an instrument of torture, and it always piques people's curiosity when they spy it.
The piece in question; a very handsome Duck Press.

So how does this object work?

Once you had the machine you would now need the duck itself.

Apparently the best duck to use would need to be young and plump and preferably been suffocated or strangled in order to retain the blood.

Once your duck had been acquired it would be stripped of its innards and the bird would be lightly seasoned and partially roasted before being dissected, with the breast and legs set aside while the carcass was dealt with. Of course, having previously removed the innards, retaining the heart and liver, these could now be liquidised to create a duck smoothie.

All the remaining skin, bones, marrow and remaining meat would now be placed in the press and the extraction would begin. Once placed in the chamber you would turn the wheel which would then allow the crank plate to bear down on the contents. As the pressure increased the blood and juices would pour out through the spout and be collected in a pan beneath.

Once those precious juices had been collected you would then need to strain and thicken the sauce. This would be done with pureed duck liver which you would have set aside earlier.

Having added some cognac and red wine you would now reduce until a deep rich coloured sauce was achieved.

Now this bloody sauce would be ready to be served over the thinly sliced duck breast.

For the second course the roasted legs and thighs could then be served.

Now, if all of this sounds too grim and gruesome to attempt yourself you can still try this showstopping dish. It is, naturally, still being served up at the Tour d’Argent in Paris where, even if you don’t wish to indulge yourself, you can still observe the tableside theatrics at someones else's table.

By the mid-nineties the restaurant had served up over a million ducks. At the Paris restaurant you even receive a certificate which indicates the number of the duck being served to you.

Here in London they dish up this culinary masterpiece at Otto’s Restaurant on Gray's Inn Road just a stone's throw from the London Silver Vaults.

If you are unlikely to get to Paris or London to try it for yourself, here’s a video showing how it's done:

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