A couple of quite young ducks, or a fine full-grown, but still tender one, will be required for this dish. Cut either down neatly into joints, and arrange them, in a single layer if possible, in a wide stewpan; pour in about three-quarters of a pint of strong, cold beef stock or gravy; let it be well cleared from scum when it begins to boil, then throw in a little salt, a rather full seasoning of cayenne, and a few thin strips of lemon-rind. Simmer the ducks very softly for three-quarters of an hour, or somewhat longer, should the joints be large; then stir into the gravy a tablespoonful of the finest rice-flour, mixed with a wineglassful or rather more of port wine, and a dessertspoonful of lemon-juice: in ten minutes after, dish the stew and send it to table instantly.
The ducks may be served with a small portion only of their sauce, laid in a circle, with green peas a la Francaise, heaped high in the centre; the lemon-rind and port wine should then be altogether omitted, and a small bunch of green onions and parsley, with two or three young carrots, may be stewed down with the birds; or three or four minced eschalots, delicately fried in butter, may be used to flavour the gravy. Turnips au beurre, prepared by the receipt of Chapter XV (Vegetables)., may be substituted for the peas; and a well-made Espagnole may take the place of beef stock, when a dish of high savour is wished for. A duck is often stewed without being divided into joints. It should then be firmly trussed, half roasted at a quick fire, and laid into the stewpan as it is taken from the spit; or well browned in some French thickening, then half covered with boiling gravy, and turned when partially done: from an hour to an hour and a quarter will stew it well.
Ducks ready for the spit.