I finally got the weather window I needed to mow the lot next door. Grass and plants were higher than the mower even at its highest setting so it was a bit of a chore. As Wifey was raking the cut grass and I just returning with the wheelbarrow, a local fellow in his three-wheeled cargo bike stopped to ask if he could have the cuttings for his "cabras" (goats). He made the sign of horns just to be sure we understood. Of course we readily agreed and he finished the raking and took a good prize to his animals. I told him I'd be cutting again the next day if it didn't rain and he promised to return. It rained of course.
We've been told that lot has sold which leaves me with mixed emotions. Though I'll be the first to complain about cutting grass, I like the view. The trees are thick and tall and the rock wall, when you can see it during the dry season, is picturesque as are most rock walls. But nothing is as constant as change so we'll adapt. A friend tells me not to be too concerned; things don't happen quickly in Mexico. So although some papers will be signed this week, I might still enjoy the view (and cut grass) for some time to come.
We've picked out a location for the chickens. It'll be under the fruit trees where they will have shade and some degree of protection from the elements. Conveniently, there's a cement pad that will provide a good foundation for the nesting boxes. I've pretty much decided to let them free range in the yard. This will, of course, require training Khan and Annie to leave them in peace but we've managed before so it is possible. Hopefully, losses will be kept to a minimum. And a rooster. I'm definitely getting a rooster. His job will be to amuse the cat. I don't think anyone can train a cat meaning the rooster will have his work cut out for him. So it's time to build the coop. Chicken wire, nesting boxes, oh, and it'll need a good roof to protect them from falling avocados... Ah, another project!
Though the dogs may be out in the yard lounging in some faraway cool spot, all it takes for them to come running home is for me to sharpen a knife on a steel. They know from experience that means a treat. Today they shared a nice duck neck. We bought a 4 lb duck from our friends Anna and Bienvenido and that's going to be today's entree. I really enjoy crispy duck skin (and potatoes and garlic cooked in duck fat!!) but it's going to be a bit of a challenge since local duck isn't as fat as what you may find elsewhere in the world. Today I'm going to carefully separate the skin from the meat by using a dull blade and my fingers so I can add fat for the roasting. I have a package of Chinese Five Spice that has been waiting patiently to be opened and I think today is the day. I'll update the blog with a complete recipe if all goes well.
Update: Shortly after putting the duck in the oven a friend arrived bearing gifts so we naturally let him in. Said gifts lasted until the duck was ready but we could hardly turn him away. Given the aromas emanating from the kitchen, he might have fought us for a seat at the table. I did not achieve the crispy skin I had hoped for so another trial is in the offing. Meanwhile, duck is duck and it was delicious!
ROAST DUCK WITH SWEET PICANTE GLAZE
4 lb duck
1-2 TBS Chinese 5 Spice
Slices of fatback or mild bacon fat
2" piece of peeled ginger, grated
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup plum sauce
3 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS brown sugar
2-3 TBS Sriracha Sauce (to taste)
Combine glaze ingredients and cook down until thick and easily coats the spoon.
Because this duck, as most local ducks it seems, had very little body fat, I used my fingers and a dull blade to separate the skin from the meat and inserted a good number of hard fat slices between the two. Rub duck inside and out with salt, grated ginger, and spice then prick skin all over. Roast duck, breast side up, 45 minutes, then remove from oven. Turn duck over and roast 45 minutes more. Turn duck over again, tilting duck to drain any liquid from cavity into pan. Continue to roast duck until skin is brown and (theoretically) crisp, about 45 minutes more (total roasting time for me was just over 3 hours). At last turn cover duck generously with sauce and roast on high (425F) for about 10 minutes or so to set the glaze. Transfer duck to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes before carving.
I served this with rice ensuring I made some extra for the next day when it was used with the leftover glaze for a delicious duck stir fry.