May I just say, I did it.
Because I get to say that.
The duck turned out perfect, thank Heavens. You cannot imagine the fear I felt when I first cut into it at the dinner table with 10 people watching. (Small explanation: unlike my British comrades, Hungarian people celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th, including giving gifts and feasting.)
Today, all I had to do was wrap the duck into puff pastry (shame on me for not making my own crust, but there was no way in hell I was going to get down to creating pastry with the energy left in me). I brushed the whole pastry with egg wash and then decorated it, slightly (loosely) based on the design in Julia’s book but honestly, my arms were achy, I haven’t slept well the night before and to be honest, I was simply used up.
This was also due to the fact that I decided to give out edible gifts this year, such as Madeleines:
You have to understand, at this point I was so tired that I took micro-naps while never leaving the side of the oven, baking the bird for 1.5 hours and turning it every 15 minutes. This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven (yes, the hole is intentional – there was a tiny funnel in it in order for the heat to have a way out of the pastry):
The logical question here is whether almost 11 hours of work in total (we calculated it whilst feasting) was worth the effort. And I say yes, once in a lifetime – the preparation gave me incredible experience in a lot of things (including sawing). But keep in mind, I am never, ever, ever making this again unless I get the duck de-boned already. Na-uh. No way.
It was delicious though – there was quite a bit of meat left inside the skin to surround the filling, and the pastry was nice and flaky – half a slice is enough to fill you up.
I am so tired that typing feels like effort. Merry Christmas to you all – today I may have cursed Julia Child a few times, but all in all, a big thank you to the lady.