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As Easy As Duck Pie

March 29, 2000|CHARLES PERRY

Two foods are proverbially easy: pie and duck soup. But exactly how easy are they?

Maybe pie seemed easier back in the days when the making and rolling out of pie dough was a familiar, everyday task and not a cause of kitchen panic. Still, once you've lined your pie pan with crust and put in your sweetened fruit along with something to thicken its juices, pie is pretty simple. You just stick it in the oven until done; it doesn't even need stirring.

On the other hand, there does seem to be a suggestion that it's the eating of pie that's so easy. And it's true, most people have no trouble in that department.

Now, duck soup isn't exactly a common food these days; probably the only restaurants that serve it on a regular basis are Chinese. But duck is so flavorful that it doesn't need a lot of other ingredients, and duck soup recipes do tend to be simple.

I haven't found one that's just "boil duck and serve," but the version given in "The British Housewife: Or, the Cook, Housekeeper's, and Gardiner's Companion" (1756) is justly described by the author, Mrs. Martha Bradley, as "a very agreeable simple soup." It has exactly three steps (four, if you have to remove the duck's feathers and innards yourself): 1. Roast duck until nearly done. 2. Blanch turnip slices in boiling water, then stew in stock until done. 3. Finish duck in turnip broth.

That's definitely easy--for the cook. It sounds as if the diners have to carve the duck meat for themselves.

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