The Last Supper

Duck hanging up in kitchen

Topsham, Devon August 31, 2007 Guy and Claire leave for Nottingham on Saturday, so tomorrow is Guy's 'last supper'. Naturally I'm cooking the proverbial fatted, um er, not calf but duck. Of course it has to be duck. I'm doing this by an ingenious method that Guy and I devised some years ago, our very own Topsham 'Peking style' duck. First you take a bicycle pump and tuck it under the duck breast skin, then you pump like a madman (actually it's a two-madman job because you have to make an airtight seal). Once you've got the seal right, the damn thing blows up like a football (no kidding!). This separates the subcutaneous fat from the meat, a critical and essential step. Afterwards, we plunge the bird in boiling water and vinegar, then dry thoroughly, hang up on a hook over the sink and baste with soy sauce and honey for 24 hours (no need to baste every 30 minutes, once an hour is quite sufficient - I'm negotiating with Bella to sleep in the kitchen with alarm clock to do this important task). The duck will finally be cooked and served 'three ways' as we've had it in London: first, the crispy skin with Mandarin pancakes, hoisin sauce, spring onion and cucumber; next the succulent meat, stripped from the bone and stir-fried with snow peas or mangetout and cashew nuts; finally a duck soup made from the carcass and bones, served with firm tofu and broccoli. Meanwhile, Kim will make Guy's favourite dessert, her legendary tarte aux pommes.

Topsham style 'Peking duck', blown up with the bicycle pump, of course allows me to indulge in two of my favourite passions: cooking and cycling. Only problem now is that my favourite track pump is covered with duck fat. Well, sometimes such supreme sacrifices do need to be made for the sake of the perfect duck dinner, especially for Guy's last supper.

What a sister!

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