On my recent trip to Caravan Book Store I came across Through Europe with a Jug of Wine, a cookbook written by Morrison Wood published in 1964. The title seduced me. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Europe and I’m missing it fiercely. My grandparents spent their senior years traveling the world; they took every opportunity to share their love of European history and culture with me. There is nothing my husband and I enjoy more than renting a car and driving from country to country, exploring little villages off the beaten path and discovering hole-in-the-wall restaurants that turn out to be gems. It seems that Morrison Wood and his wife were also enamored of exploring Europe’s lesser-known local delights. Through Europe with a Jug of Wine follows Wood and his wife as they travel across Europe through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and the British Isles. They visited 156 cities and towns, collecting hundreds of recipes along the way. Wood hoped that the book might serve as “gastronomic guide” to Europe, which is why most of the recipes are accompanied with an origin story from their trip– where they first tried it, who cooked it for them, etc. Though it is a cookbook it also very “readable.” I found myself curling up on my living room couch and reading through the book like a novel, imagining myself in all of the places that Woods and his wife traveled together.
As Forrest Gump might say, vintage cookbooks are like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes I pick up a vintage cookbook and find a fabulous treasure trove of recipe ideas; sometimes the recipes turn out to be unappetizing or just plain weird. I was delighted to find that Through Europe with a Jug of Wine is filled with really interesting dishes, many of which I am eager to try. The first recipe that jumped out at me was Roast Duck with Rum. This recipe was picked up during the Woods’ time in England, where they discovered that many folks preferred duck plainly roasted and sometimes basted– nothing fancy. This made sense to me; duck meat is so rich on its own, it really doesn’t need a lot of “dressing up.” Roasting a whole duck seemed like a perfect seasonal holiday choice, and I liked the addition of rum, brandy, citrus and ginger. The resulting Roast Duck with Rum was lightly seasoned, succulent and juicy, with just a hint of sweetness. I garnished with fresh parsley and orange slices, then added a sprinkle of fresh orange juice over the top of the duck just before serving. This would make a fragrant and lovely centerpiece for a holiday meal.
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Roast Duck with Rum
- 5 lb duck (1 bird)
- 1 small orange
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 lb salted butter, melted (see kosher modification below)
- 1/2 cup rum
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- salt, to taste
- Kosher Modification: use salted margarine instead of butter.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Clean and rinse your duck, then pat dry. Place in a roasting pan.
- Wipe the cavity of the duck with a cloth soaked in the brandy.
- With a fork, pierce all around the outside of a whole orange and a whole onion. Place the pierced orange and onion inside of the duck cavity.
- Truss the duck (you may wish to sew up the skin to help keep the orange and onion in pace), then rub the outside with a bruised clove of garlic. To learn how to truss poultry, click here.
- Brush duck with the melted butter.
- Roast the duck at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and cook for an additional 20 minutes per pound, basting several times throughout. During the last half hour of cooking, take the duck out of the oven and remove the fat that has accumulated at the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Add the rum to the bottom of the pan and baste. Roast for remaining 30 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the oven and baste one final time. Sprinkle with the ¼ tsp of ginger. For added sweetness you can drizzle with freshly squeezed orange juice.