Musical chairs strikes the over-5 set with nostalgia. Ah, kindergarten. But for those in the musical-chairs cohort, it’s pure terror. Stumble along to some treacly tune; lunge for safety. It schools its students: Greed is good. Grab the first option. Resources are scarce, and shrinking.
Worse yet: duck duck goose. The slow-building dread of duck, duck, duck; the fast-paced panic of goose. This game sharpens the message: Hunt or be hunted.
More book-corner regular than playground powerhouse, I preferred snack. Like duck roasted tender, sizzled crisp and heaped onto soft tortillas. It’s a game without losers, a lesson in bounty.
Duck Carnitas Tacos
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
Bit of a mess to prepare, but delicious.
2 duck legs (about 1 pound each)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, cut into eighths
4 radishes, sliced into rounds
1 small white onion, sliced into rings
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
4 (or 8 if you prefer a double layer) small, soft corn tortillas
1. Roast: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Settle duck legs in a Dutch oven with a snug fit. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour in milk. Toss in garlic cloves, cinnamon stick (make sure it isn’t floating), and orange wedges. Cover and slide into oven. Roast until duck is very tender, 2 hours. Uncover and roast until skin turns beautifully crisp, about 40 minutes.
2. Portion: Pull out duck legs. When cool, discard the odd and possibly curdled contents of the pan. Pull off those crisp skins. Break up meat into bite-size chunks (this should be easy work). Discard bones and any lumps of fat.
3. Crisp: Set a medium skillet over medium heat. Lay in skins, crisp side up, and sizzle 1-2 minutes, to crisp the underside and render any clinging fat. Shift skins to a cutting board and slice to slivers (like bacon, only better). Slide the meat chunks into the pan and brown, 1-2 minutes. Heap duck on a platter, and scatter on shards.
4. Serve: Add the radishes, onion and cilantro to the platter. Heat tortillas (wrap in a clean, damp kitchen cloth and zap 2 minutes) to serve alongside, with the salsa. Enjoy.