Duck in a Can

The texts and emails began arriving in earnest on a Thursday afternoon. Friends Don and Monica were in Montreal, they had booked a reservation in one of the city’s most talked about restaurants, Au Pied de Cochon, and they wanted me to know about it.

First came links to Yelp, followed by one to the restaurant’s own website, and finally photos of the food they were eating — fois gras poutine, steak tartare, fois gras hamburger and something called “Duck in a Can.”

I guessed immediately from the “cochon” in the title that the restaurant probably specialized in pork. Although the word “pied” translates as “foot,” the menu also offered pickled tongue, head cheese, a “happy” pork chop, a roast piglet and most impressively, a “Pig head for 2,” which Don and Monica did not order, although they did send a photo of a pig’s head passing by their table.

The menu also highlighted an impressive array of fois gras offerings, as well as interesting appetizers such as guinea hen liver mousse (now I know what to do with those guinea hens wandering my property if they ever outlive their welcome), tarragon bison tongue and duck carpaccio. Of particular interest to me, however, was that Duck in a Can, which Don and Monica attempted to describe via text, and promised to try to bring one home for us to eat at a Sunday dinner we had on the calendar.

72 hours later, there we were in my kitchen, passing the can around. The restaurant sometimes sold the Duck in a Can as a to-go item for those living in Montreal. But had never sent one in an airplane to another country, and were apprehensive. Donnie, however, is a convincing chap, certain that between the chilly Quebec air, hotel fridge and cool airplane cargo hold, the raw product incased in the can would make it home safely.

“It needs to cook in boiling water for exactly 27 minutes,” Donnie said, adding: “With the serial numbers on the bottom.” Inside the can, as he described it, would be a duck breast with skin, a big chunk of fois gras, some sort of vegetable and lots of sauce. The restaurant also supplied a large toast — rather stale and misshapen after its travel adventure — and a small container of very rich snow white mashed potato. We used our own, fresher baguette for the toast, spread the potato on top of four slices as instructed, and set the can to boil. There was nothing for it now but to drink wine and wait.

27 minutes later, the alarm went off and we lifted the can from the water. I could describe the moment we’d all been waiting for, but why not watch for yourself:

How was the Duck in a Can? Well, more than anything I enjoyed the story and the adventure of it — and the fact that Don and Monica thought enough of us to smuggle one all the way back from Quebec!

The dish itself provided a luxurious and satisfying appetizer for the four of us, the sauce soaking the bread and potato, the “vegetable” (cabbage, it turned out) providing textural contrast, and the perfectly cooked duck breast and silky fois gras pairing decadently on the palate. We even cut off the skin, sliced it into strips, crisped it up in a pan and served it on top as an accent of crunch — something the folks in the kitchen at Au Pied de Cochon might want to make note of.

Duck in a can, served

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 01:02:24

    I’m with the kids…


  2. Jessamine in PDX
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 05:13:42

    That’s awesome! I had the duck in a can last spring and while it wasn’t my favorite dish of the night (their insane roasted foie gras special was), it was still pretty impressive. I never thought about trying to take one to-go! =)


    • scolgin
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 15:33:50

      Yeah, it was fun to do at home — and as a bonus, it grossed the kids out. LOL I saw the Salt & Straw fois ice cream on your game post. Wow! I was in Portland a month ago (did a couple of Road Posts from up there) and discovering Salt & Straw was one of the highlights.


  3. Michelle
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 01:55:38

    We were in Montreal a number of years ago. Interesting city, though unfortunately we were there on nights that Au Pied de Cochon was closed. Give ’em credit for an original take-home idea! But perhaps they might be a bit embarrassed that you obviously improved the dish by crisping it up.


    • scolgin
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 03:06:20

      Well otherwise it’s a big useless chunk of white boingy skin. Nobody eats that thing. They should figure that out! 😉


    • scolgin
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 03:43:18

      AND, furthermore, I was able to use the fat I rendered from crisping up the skin to fry some chanterelles I used for a pasta I served with the rib-eye we at after the Duck in a Can. Try THAT at the restaurant!!! 😉


  4. Trackback: Au Pied de Cochon — Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Montreal | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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