The Dish from France and the Dordogne – Duck is the Specialty

Salad Quercy of Gesiers Confit (duck gizzards)

I recently spent a month in the southwest of France, most of it in the Dordogne.  This region, (also called Perigord) surrounding the Dordogne river, is lush with meadows, forests and some vineyards. Included in the landscape are castles on cliffsides, prehistoric painted caves, formal gardens and a countryside dotted with picturesque villages.  However, to me, this area will forever be the “land of the duck.” In one month, I'm sure I ate more duck than I’ve eaten in my entire lifetime.  I even had it for breakfast!  At a morning outdoor market several foie gras vendors invited me to sample their delicacies.  What kind of visitor would I be to decline?  Foie gras and breakfast had never before entered my mind, but I had to try it. Those little slabs of foie gras on crusty French baguette cubes were one of the best breakfasts ever.


Saint Genies France
The Village of Saint Genies


Duck Products at the Street Market in Perigueux
Market in Perigueux

 

France is famous for its duck dishes. You will find Magret de Canard (duck breast) or Cuisse de Canard also known as Confit de Canard (duck leg slow cooked and preserved in duck fat).  Tournedos Rossini, the classic French dish of filet mignon topped with a slab of foie gras and served in a Sauce Perigueux (truffle sauce — yes, Perigord is also famous for its truffles) and topped with shaved black truffles–just in case it wasn't already rich enough.  These duck dishes you can find throughout France, but in the Dordogne you find them and so many others.  Duck is as common to the Dordogne people as a chicken breast is to a Californian.

In addition to the beef tournedos, just as popular are  Tournedos de Magret.  Two slices of duck breast strung together to make the round "tournedos" form, then a slice of foie gras is placed in the center.  The tournedos are pan fried and served in the same rich truffle sauce. There are Aiguilettes (duck breast tenders), usually cooked to rare and served with a cream sauce.  The dish above is a salad of gesiers (duck gizzards).  The gizzards are also confit in duck fat.  If you’d like more variety of duck in your salad, then try a Salade Perigourdine.  It has gesiers, slices of either smoked or dried duck breast and topped with a fat slab of foie gras.  Along with the various parts of the duck and cooking preparations, there are the numerous types of foie gras – cuit, mi-cuit, cru, entier, bloc, pate, mousse.  Like I said, I was in the land of the duck.

After a month, I had even become somewhat of a duck snob.  At a wine festival where they served street fare versions of regional food (yes, foie gras as street food), I was nibbling on an assortment of duck and very disappointed in the quality of the foie gras.  It was a bit grainy.  A French woman asked me where I purchased the plate.  I told her, warning her that the foie gras wasn’t very good.  She frowned and explained that it was more likely that I was not in the habit of eating  foie gras.  I smiled and thought, “Lady, what do you think I’ve been eating for the last month?!”  Compared to her life-long consumption of it, she was probably right.

Duck isn't exactly a staple in California.  Except for fine dining restaurants and some ethnic markets, it's nearly impossible to find.  And, you certainly don't see confit duck gizzards or jars of duck fat in the supermarkets.  I'm glad I got to try all of the duck variations during my visit.  I would suggest any and all of them for your next visit to Dordogne. 

 

Assiette Perigourdine - Duck Specialties of Perigord

Assiette Perigourdine (Assortment of Duck)


Magret de Canard - Duck Breast in Dordogne

Magret de Canard (Duck Breast)


Aiguillettes - Duck Breast Tenders

Aiguillettes (Duck Breast Tenders)

 

Duck Leg Confit and Foie Gras at the Street Market in Perigueux

Confit de Canard and Foie Gras at the Market

   

Jars of Duck Fat at the Dordogne Supermarket

Duck Gizzards Confit at the Dordogne Supermarket
Common Supermarket Items in Dordogne – Jars of Duck Fat and Gesiers Confit

 


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While traveling what food/dish did you find that was so common in that country and so rare in yours? Which Dordogne duck dish sounds most appealing to you?

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Village of Saint Genies France
 Village of Saint Genies France

This post is part of WanderFood Wednesdays – check out the other wandering foodies that blog.

 

Related Posts:

A Night at L'Atelier Joel Robuchon

Flaky Apple Tart – Croustaude aux Pommes – Inspired by Lunch at Pavillon Margaux

Dining Experience at the Hidden Kitchen in Paris

Sunday at the Bastille Market

The Dish From France – Viennoiserie


 

 


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Comments

  1. James Martin
    October 27th

    Of all the salads in all the world, Salade Perigourdine is the best.
    james, a duck lover who misses duck in northern Tuscany.

  2. wandering educators
    October 27th

    oh! i love this. and a WHOLE Month of eating duck is just glorious! for me, i miss some japanese foods that are hard to make here in the US.

  3. Tami
    October 28th

    sigh…thinking of memorable times in that region when I indeed gorged on duck and had my first duck gizzard salad made by the owner of our B&B. Delicious! My husbands eyes popped out of his head when I told him later what it was (he had had no idea at the time), but he’d enjoyed it just as much. I also loved the discovery of Vin de Noix, that sweet, inky walnut liquer. Your time sounds lovely here. What an enchanting region.

  4. Paula
    October 28th

    I personally grew up on wild duck and never really acquired a delight for domestic duck (too bland). However, the photos of Aiguillettes (Duck Breast Tenders)and Magret de Canard (Duck Breast)do look delicious.
    As for differences in commonly-seen foods, you’re right that duck used to be VERY rare in restaurants (except Asian), but that’s beginning to change (as dining spots are feeling freer to charge high prices for small portions).
    In Spain, I found more dishes (esp. tapas) that featured organs like kidneys (one NEVER sees them here). Also, liver is rarely served here, unfortunately, because I LOVE it with onions.

  5. Jozee
    October 28th

    The duck breast tenders look good to me. I am not sure that I have ever had a duck dish, but I would certainly try these.

  6. Corinne @ Gourmantic
    October 28th

    I love this post! Foie gras and confit de canard are my favourites. I know I shouldn’t over do it, but when in France, non doesn’t enter my vocabulary. So naturally, this post has got me craving it tonight!

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