Sunday, September 7, 2008

Take Two Nice Mallards; Duck Salmi

Today's recipe is yet another one chosen on the basis of name. I'd never heard of "salmi" before, nor had Chefly Husband. Turns out, salmis are heavily spiced wine-based stews with minced game. Mushrooms and/or truffles are common.

Clearly, this is a Take One Cookbook... kind of recipe.

Oh, and if anyone tries to tell you that the California wine business is a relatively new business, laugh in their faces. Then, show them this recipe from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book.
Duck Salmi

Take two nice mallards, draw and wash them, and wipe inside and out with a dry cloth. Cut 1/4 pound of bacon into dice, and fry till brown in an iron kettle. Then add 1/4 pound of butter, and fry the ducks till will browned in this. Add 2 or 3 chopped onions, and stir until they are browned. Add salt, pepper, 6 cloves, 2 or 3 bay leaves, a little celery seed, and enough water to cover the ducks. Let all simmer very slowly for 1 hour. Then add 1 pint white wine (California Riesling is excellent), skim off the fat, and let all cook slowly an hour. Add 1 or 2 cans of mushrooms, sliced, and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Serve the ducks on a platter, surrounded by wedges of toast, with the mushrooms and gravy poured over the toast.

Mrs. Lavinia T. Whalley.

I don't know why Lavinia T. Whalley saw fit to serve this on toast. Duck on a Shingle doesn't sound anywhere near as elegant as a nice Pasta with Duck Ragout. Maybe it was her earthy pioneer self coming to the front.

For, lo, Mrs. Lavinia T. Whalley was a pioneer. She crossed over the Oregon Trail (well, only as far as to the crossroads to go to California... and then she took the wrong turn) at the ripe old age of five, with her parents. At 20, she married John William Whalley, who'd come West to hunt gold, and eventually worked his way up to Oregon, read law with several folks, and eventually became a Big Name in Law in Oregon. Lavinia (why don't people name their daughters Lavinia anymore?) outlived her husband, which we could pretty much tell by the way she's referenced in this cookbook. So, the widow Whalley, and her duck-laden sauce on toast.

The "T." stands for Talitha. I'm pretty sure I can guess why people don't name their daughters Talitha much any more.

We didn't eat duck much, if at all, growing up. My mom was convinced that duck was fatty, greasy and gross until after Chefly Husband became a cook. I don't remember if it was a duck breast dish he made for her, or duck confit, but she loved it, and is firmly converted to the church of duck yumminess.


  1. I know of a girl named Talitha. Nice kid. I don't know any Lavinias.

  2. Turns out there are over 500 Talitha-s *and* Lavinia-s on Facebook. So, neither name is as dead as the mallards in the ragout.

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