Duck eggs would even weigh down the Easter Bunny’s basket – Chicago Tribune

My older sister Carol, whose family farm is near Culver, recently shared an abundance of duck eggs with myself, mom and dad.

My third published cookbook, “Further From the Farm”, released in 2010, shared a wonderful “canky” story about mum’s older sister, Aunt Ruby, who is now 92, and who once faced his own egg-ceptional situation in May 2008.

While working around low growing ground cover shrubs near the outside wall of her house in Highland, to her surprise she discovered a mother duck sitting on a nest with 10 eggs!

And since Aunt Ruby lives right in the middle of a cozy, home-to-home neighborhood, her home for over 60 years, there are no ponds in sight. Even the Calumet River is quite a distance from his address.

The duck featured in Aunt Ruby’s egg-laying story was a wild duck, while the ducks that produced the many eggs my sister Carol collected are white domestic ducks, from her neighboring farm friends down the road, the family Kelsey.

Duck eggs have an eggshell tone that is best described as being taupe in color. The shells are also much thicker than chicken eggs, and in size they are almost double the size of what is found in the nest of traditional laying hens.

Inside, the yolks are much larger and higher in protein than chicken eggs. My mom fried a few duck eggs for my dad’s breakfast and he describes the cooked results as “meatier with a chewy texture.” My other older sister, Pam, also shared the surprise surplus of duck eggs last weekend and took a dozen home to Mishawaka.

My dad said that growing up on our family farm in the 1930s, Grandma and Grandpa Potempa never favored raising ducks, and instead valued their chickens as their choice of poultry .

“When Grandma and Grandpa raised ducks, they never wanted to stay in the coop or around the coop,” my dad explained.

“Instead, they were always wandering around the fields looking for the ditches that bordered the fields as they preferred to splash around in the water. Grandfather grew tired of having to walk along the ditches to bring them home.

I agree with my dad when he says ducks eventually ended up on the Sunday dinner menu rather than a lifetime of laying eggs or producing more ducks.

My father’s older brother, my Uncle Joe, despised duck, chicken, turkey, and poultry of all kinds. However, his wife of over 50, Aunt Rose, from a bohemian family, loved duck. Later, she would ask her Polish housekeeper to cook roast duck legs and she particularly liked a crispy duck skin on the outside.

I too, like Aunt Rose, love roast duck, which is why all of my various published cookbooks include at least a few variations of duck recipes.

My last duck feast was over the holidays at the YOUYU Noodle Bar at the new Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary, which has both a duck carving station and a whole duck rotisserie, the latter promising such crispy skin and delicious, I can imagine my Aunt Rose smiling from heaven.

The executive chef of the new Hard Rock Casino is Anuwat Morakotjantachote, known to his colleagues in the culinary world as “Chef Nu”. When he was a guest on my weekly WJOB radio show on Wednesday afternoon last fall, he casually revealed that he had the honor of cooking for the Queen of Thailand, who at the time was the reigning royalty of the country from his family heritage.

Prior to joining the Hard Rock, Chef Nu worked around the world, including at the Ritz Carlton and the New York Athletic Club, as well as the Peninsula Hotel for Chicago and New York locations. He found his first taste of notoriety and celebrity patrons when he took a job at Tavern on the Green, which during the 1980s and 1990s was one of New York’s busiest restaurants.

When shopping for duck to prepare at home, I have found that Maple Leaf Farms is always the best choice for duck which does not disappoint. They are also generous with sharing their recipes, such as their signature standard preparation for a sumptuous roast duck fit for royalty.

Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is the Marketing Director of Theater at the Center. He can be reached at or send your questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, IN 46374.

Makes 6 servings

Maple Leaf Farms whole duck (5-6 lbs), thawed

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 orange, cut into wedges

1 head of garlic, paper removed and top cut off

Publish the forum

Twice a week

Northwest Indiana news updates delivered every Monday and Wednesday

2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces


1. Make sure the duck is completely thawed, if frozen. (Thaw in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.) Start a large pot of water (deep enough to submerge an entire duck) on the stove, bringing to a boil. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove the duck from the bag. Remove orange sauce packet (if included), giblets and neck from inside. Save the offal and the neck to make broth. Remove excess fat from the body cavity and neck. Rinse the inside and outside of the duck under cold running water. Drain the duck. With a large pointed fork, prick the skin all over (angled approach) being careful not to pierce the meat (if the meat is pierced, it will dry out). Gently put the duck in the pan of boiling water; boil for 10 minutes. This will help remove some of the fat. Remove the duck and let cool. Drain the duck.

3. Mix salt, pepper and paprika. Rub the duck inside and out with the spice mix. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Stuff the orange segments, the whole head of garlic (top trimmed) and cut pieces of celery into the cavity of the duck. Fold the neck skin underneath, covering the cavity. Secure with a skewer.

4. Place the roasting pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. After 45 minutes, remove the duck from the oven. Remove any grease that may have accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. Gently turn the duck over, put it back on a rack in the roasting pan and return to the oven for 35 minutes. At the end of the 35 minutes, remove the duck from the oven, remove any fat that may have accumulated and gently turn the duck over so that the breast is facing up. Return to oven. If you have a 5 pound duck, cook another 15 minutes; for a 6 pound duck, cook another 20 minutes (total cooking time should be about 22 minutes per pound). Be careful not to overcook. The internal temperature should be 180 degrees in the thickest part of the leg and thigh joint. Remove the duck from the oven.

5. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the oranges and celery from the cavity and discard them. Remove the head of garlic. Carve the duck and serve.

Alicia R. Rucker