A MASTER'S BRACE
3 or 4 wild ducks for 6 persons (four ducks offer a second helping)
2 medium-sized onions cut in eighths
1 onion chopped fine
1 stalk celery roughly cut
1 carrot roughly cut
2 cloves garlic halved but impeded
1 tbs. peppercorns
8 juniper berries
1 cup white wine
1 quart water, salted to taste
1 stick butter
1 bunch watercress
Pluck clucks. Cut necks flush with bodies of birds. Split and clean gizzards. Fry gizzards and necks with livers in one-half stick of butter over medium high heat in a large cast-iron skillet. When brown, add cut-up onions, celery and carrot, garlic, peppercorns and juniper berries. When all are tinged with brown, remove to saucepan, add white wine and water and let simmer for two hours. Strain off resulting juice and boil down to one-half cup liquid. Refrigerate. (You can do all this the day before the dinner.)
On day of dinner preheat oven to 500�. Salt and pepper ducks; smear with one-half stick of soft butter. Place in oven breast down on top shelf and roast for 25 minutes. This will cause some smoke. Don't worry. Remove ducks, sprinkle with chopped onion, and perhaps a handful of pine needles or several branches of rosemary. Return to 350� oven for 10 minutes.
Remove ducks. Make an incision between second joint and breast and rip off the legs. Make another cut at top of wishbone and on both sides of the backbones and strip breasts from carcasses. Place breasts skin down on platter and put to one side.
Place legs in a duck press or orange juice squeezer. If neither is available, simply squeeze the blood from meat with hands, and set aside.
Place the carcasses in a roasting pan. Pour one-half cup of the cooled juices over them. Put in oven and let simmer. Remove from heat and pass the juice through a sieve. Simmer again.
Place dinner plates and platter of breasts in the oven at 100� for three minutes. (Plates should be warm when served, not hot.) Garnish breasts with watercress. Just before serving, remove juices from heat, whisk in blood and pour over duck breasts.
VENISON STEAK AU POIVRE