Ànec amb peres (duck with pears) is a traditional Catalan recipe that mixes salty and sweet taste. It’s typically cooked on ‘Festa Major’ day (town celebration day) basically in Girona counties, but spread to all Catalonia. The same recipe was traditionally cooked with goose instead of duck, something that delighted Salvador Dalí who used to eat it in the Duran restaurant in Figueres.
Duck may be cooked with other fruits such as peaches, apples, figs or cherries as it is done in North Catalonia. Duck with oranges is a classical meal which is supposed to come from the french cooking. Poultry with oranges was already cooked in Middle Ages and Renaixença (the catalan art nouveau movement followed by Gaudí, Aribau, Verdaguer…at late 19th century) and, in Italy, it is considered a typical roast “a la catalana”, as said by Bartolomeo dei Sacchi, called Platina in his De la honestra voluptate, e valetudine (1487).
In Penedès County, mute duck with prunes and pine-nuts is very appreciated. In Menorca, the nuns from Maó used to cook an exquisite duck with jelly. Maybe a recipe inspired by the “Anades estofados” cookbook from the royal cooker Francisco Motiño (printed in Barcelona on 1763 and kept in this convent). Combining the fat meat from duck with fruits is something already invented by the Roman Empire.
Nowadays the mute duck is preferred (coming from America) since it is mute as its name shows… and less fat. Pears used in Middle Ages were probably too sharp to be eaten. In Cerdanya were used as vegetables, sometimes with turnips, or to obtain a delicious allioli.
Video: © infocatalan