Several months after the BBQ Duck incident I had another close encounter with the critter. Out of the blue my wife announced that she was going to visit an old friend who lived some 300 miles away, She realized that I was a challenged parent, and so would not make the kids suffer and be forced to have me look after them. She would be taking them with her. The rationalization being that the only person I would be able to inflict some accidental mishap on would be myself!

Her parting words as she and the kids left on that Friday morning were “Please let the house still be standing when I get back on Monday.”

With the whole weekend to my self I had to plan out a strategy. Ever since the BBQ mishap, the word Duck had become a four letter word in the house. The mere mention of it would make my wife transform into a wailing banshee!

With her out of the way for a few days, it seemed an ideal opportunity to revisit the culinary world of Duck. Of course it seemed a shame not to share this feast, so I invited the reprobate next door neighbor, Greg. The deal was sealed, I’d supply the food, he would supply the liquid refreshments, and also teach me about the wonderful sport of American Football.

9am Sunday the lesson began. He arrived with two 24pack cases of beer and explained that a fundamental part of understanding the rules of Football involved something called tailgating. Apparently through tailgating you achieved a higher perception of the plays, and the quality of the officiating. The true Zen of football was best achieved by consuming a 12 pack before the opening kick off.

I was just the student in the presence of the Grand Master so I followed his every word, and beer. We had not reached the magic 12 pack point when the game started, but we were well on our way.

I decided that this would be a great time to start the cooking process. I selected one of my ex-wifes best roasting pans and placed the duck on it. The cook books recommended that I pierce the skin with a fork, this would help in permitting the fat to escape. Actually there is a second reason, one that is rarely talked about. It prevents the Duck from exploding in the oven! Its all to do with physics and expanding gases. There is a simple at home experiment that you can try, however I do not recommend it because if your wife catches you doing it, you are destined for a lonely night sleeping on the sofa. However, for the more daring among you, take an egg from the refrigerator, make sure that there are no cracks in it, place it in the middle of the showroom condition and recently cleaned microwave. Set the power level to warp 10, and the timer to 5 minutes, hit the ignition switch and watch. The explosion is quite spectacular. You have just created ‘shell in’ scrambled eggs.

If you have planned ahead you will already have packed an overnight bag, and so grab it, and drive to a nearby hotel, because there is going to be hell to pay when your wife gets home!

I have digressed, so back to the Duck. Having given it the fork ritual, I added a little salt and pepper. The salt ensures that you will have that lovely crispy skin.

I placed the pan in the oven, that I had preheated to Warp 375 and went back to the post tailgate party, aka the game.

At half time, I decided to check the Duck and see if it needed Basting. I opened the oven door and it looked glorious. It was exactly what I had imagined, the skin was that lovely golden color, and the smell was making my mouth water. The only problem was that it was swimming in an ocean of Duck fat.

The solution was simple, take the pan out of the oven and drain the fat off. I grabbed a couple of kitchen towels and reached in to the oven to extricate the duck.

I made a discovery, the Zen of the tailgate party may well not be the Zen of cooking Duck. My delicate flesh came in contact with a Warp 375 degree surface. The brains natural flee reaction kicked into gear. I watched in awe and wonder as the pan, duck, and who knows how much hot grease did a graceful somersault and landed on the floor. It goes without saying that the falling slice of buttered toast law prevailed! It landed butter side down!

I attempted to rescue the Duck, but proved to be a challenge. Duck fat on a linoleum floor is about the most slippery surface known to man. It makes Teflon look like coarse sandpaper! In fact I am surprised that the whiz kids at NASA went with Teflon, when they could just as easily coated the Shuttle with Vinyl floor covering and Duck fat.

Greg and I declared the kitchen a no mans land! It was just to physically dangerous to venture into. A little Duck fat goes a long way, a lot of Duck fat goes even further!

Using the logic that only can be found from the Zen of the tailgate we decided that the problem might be better addressed after the Duck fat had cooled off. Once solidified it would be much easier to deal with.

Greg suggested that we move next door to his abode, it would be safer. His girlfriend was also out of town, and so we would not be harassed. He also pointed out that that it would be safer. We would not have to risk life and limb trying to get to the refrigerator for a new beer. This made perfect sense, so we relocated next door.

Duck fat out of sight and out of mind, things seemed to be looking up.

“Hey, want some popcorn” Greg asks? I am not a huge fan, but I said “sure”.

It turns out that popcorn also has its foibles. It is best made in an enclosed environment i.e a lid!

Greg selected the largest fry pan that his girlfriend owned, poured a goodly amount of oil in it, and dumped in about a pound of raw popcorn. He set the heat at warp 10 and came back in. “It will be ready shortly”.

Before long we did hear the sound of small arms fire. He assured me that that was normal.

He went to check on our new project. Seconds later “It’s a damn war zone in there, it’s dangerous”.

I looked in, Greg was right. not only was the floor covered by popcorn, the danger of getting hit by one of these errant IED’s was high!

I did end up spending the night on Greg’s couch. Sure it was not ideal having the popcorn everywhere,but that was better than the neck breaking option that waited me at home.

Early the next morning I made a quick foray into the house of Duck destruction, carefully avoiding the kitchen. I got ready for work and scooted!

Life was good until around 2pm. The phone rang. There were no pleasantries or preamble ‘Simon, what the hell did you do? I am going to kill you when you get home!’ CLICK.

Needless to say the next few days were kinda frosty……

Simon Barrett

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