I’ve never had “4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie”, but I have eaten duck baked in a pie, and it was delicious.
We’d made pheasant pot pie before, and it’s one of our favorite recipes. But it wasn’t until recently that we tried fixing a duck pot pie. The duck version is a bit trickier because it requires some extra steps, but it’s worth the effort. What you’re actually making is a flavorful duck stew that will be baked in pie crust, and your family or guests will love it. This recipe will feed three average appetites or two big eaters.
Start by cutting the breast meat from two small or one large duck (enough for two cups) into bite-sized chunks. Next, season the chunks with a good spice rub (see recipe). Dab the rub liberally on the meat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
In a cast-iron Dutch oven over high heat, sear the meat in one tablespoon of olive oil. When the meat is browned, increase heat to high and add half a cup of brandy, stirring up the caramelized bits with a wooden spoon.
When the brandy is almost gone, add enough duck stock (low-sodium beef broth also works) to cover half an inch in the bottom and bake at 275 degrees, covered, for about three hours or until tender.
Remove the meat to a bowl and pour what liquid remains into a measuring cup. In the Dutch oven, sauté until softened:
1 cup of onion, chopped
When the onion is cooked, add:
Two cups of stock, including the braising liquid
Bring the stock to a boil, then add:
2 cups of potatoes in bite-sized chunks
1 cup of carrots in bite-sized chunks
Bring the stock back to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, seasoning to taste with:
Salt and pepper
Next, thicken the stock into gravy by stirring in, a little at a time, refrigerated dark roux. When the sauce gets thick, return the meat to the Dutch oven and add:
½ cup of frozen peas
Cover and put back in the oven while you roll out a pie crust. We use the store-bought crust, but you could also make your own. Line the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate with one piece of dough. Another option is to fill three personal-sized ramekins.
When the crust is ready, fill the pie pan or ramekins almost to the top with stew, then cover with the remaining pie crust. Cut several slits in the top of the crust and place in a 425-degree oven for about 40 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, wrap aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to keep it from burning.
When the crust is nicely browned, remove the pie and let sit 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with slices of warm, fresh bread.
To make a spice rub, combine in a Ziploc container:
3 tablespoons of crushed peppercorns
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 tablespoon of oregano