serves: 4 servings
My grandmother always had a barrel of sauerkraut in her cantina (wine cellar) at Busoler. Nonna harvested her first frost cabbages, which were sliced, after pickling, on a wooden frame fitted with a blade. Both the cabbage and the year's supply of turnips were pickled in leftover wine must.
When a duck was killed, we'd have the innards with a frittata for merenda, and we'd render the birds fat and bake the cracklings in our bread. Later in the day, the main meal would be duck with sauerkraut, which, incidentally, is a dish common to both Istrian and Alsatian cookery. Anitra con crauti is a logical combination; the sauerkraut breaks the fattiness of the duck and sets off the richness of the meat. Plain boiled potatoes will mediate nicely between the sauerkraut and the duck.
1 Long Island duck, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 cups chicken stock
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds sauerkraut
10 whole peppercorns
2 cups water
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile, remove the duck gizzard, liver, and excess fat, and reserve for other uses. Season the duck inside and out with salt and pepper, and place 2 bay leaves and the rosemary in the body cavity. In an ovenproof skillet, heat the vegetable oil and brown the duck on all sides, about 10 minutes. Discard all oil from the skillet, add the chicken stock, transfer to the oven, and bake 30 minutes.
While the duck bakes, in a deep pot large enough to accommodate the bird and sauerkraut with ample headroom, brown the garlic in the olive oil. Add the washed sauerkraut (Packaged or canned may be used but wash thoroughly under running water. If too sour just wash more.), 3 bay leaves, the peppercorns, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water, and bring to simmer. Transfer the duck and its juices (after skimming the fat) to the sauerkraut pot and simmer 1 hour, half covered, stirring occasionally. To serve, carve the duck into eight parts, remove and discard the bay leaves and garlic, and place two pieces of duck (one lighter, one darker) on each plate, flanking it with sauerkraut.