by John Manikowski
Wood ducks are extremely tender and juicy but are very small birds.
You may substitute any other duck for this recipe, especially if you have four people with big appetites but you may have to grill them two at a time or have access to a large grill.
Serve with celeriac-laced mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas sautéed in butter with fresh thyme.
Combine the oil, lemon juice, thyme and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Wash and pat dry the ducks. Split up the back and lay flat.
Lay the ducks in a container large enough to accommodate them and pour the marinade over both. Cover and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.
Soak the cherries in triple sec and orange juice in a small bowl for about 20-30 minutes.
Start a fire in a charcoal grill.
Combine the cherries and their juices with the wine in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, uncovered. Add vinegar and simmer 2-3 more minutes. Add veal (or chicken) stock and reduce by about one-half, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
When the coals are gray and hot, remove the ducks from the marinade, shake off most of the marinade and lay on the grate. Grill for 4-5 minutes, turn and grill another 3-4 minutes for medium to medium-rare. (Add about 2 minutes on each side if you prefer your meat cooked longer.)
Remove from grill, cut each duck up the breast bone (separating ducks in half) and lay a half on each of 4 warmed plates, breast up. Ladle cherry sauce over each, sprinkle orange zest over all and serve immediately.
Louis Martini, whose wines have been around long enough for most wine drinkers to know a reliable and affordable source when they see it: The Pinot Noir Los Carneros (from the Napa Valley), with a substantial amount of Petite Sirah added to the appealing cherry and plum flavors, pairs well with this wild duck.
Louis Latour's Pinot Noir from Burgundy also has the classic black cherry and wild plum flavors that go so well with duck. A bit more understated than the California Pinot Noirs.
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