Rich and comforting, duck is tailor-made for fall’s crisp temperatures. Local restaurants demonstrate the bird’s versatility with an enticing range of dishes.
1 Duck Cassoulet
At Z Cuisine, this traditional peasant dish from the Languedoc region of France stars chef Patrick Dupays’ Hudson Valley duck leg confit. The succulent fowl is complemented by the house sausage (made with pork belly, shoulder, and andouille spices) and tucked into a cozy cannellini bean ragoût. Each portion is baked individually in an earthenware dish and served with wilted greens.
Drink This: Cassoulet is traditionally served with Fitou, Corbières, or Minervois, all red wines from the Languedoc region. 2239 W. 30th Ave., 303-477-1111, zcuisineonline.com
2 Duck Duck Goose Poutine
Euclid Hall gives duck a surprising platform on which to shine: the French-Canadian poutine. The LoDo eatery’s version showcases hand-cut fries, melted Wisconsin cheese curds, and a peppery roasted duck gravy. A sunny-side-up duck egg—and an ounce of foie gras—add irresistible decadence to the combination.
Drink This: The Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Flemish sour red ale tart enough to stand up to the richness. 1317 14th St., 303-595-4255, euclidhall.com
3 Duck Confit
At Beehive in Boulder, chef-owner Janice Henning cures duck legs with spices for three days before cooking and preserving them in duck fat. When the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, Henning serves it with local produce intended to round out the richness of the duck. Those accompaniments, which might range from corn and pickled onions to warm escarole and cherries, blanket the dish with sweet, salty, and sour notes.
Drink This: A young Beaujolais makes an irresistible pairing. 2018 10th St., Boulder, 303-786-8585, beehivegoodness.com
4 Roasted Duck Noodle Soup
Empress Seafood Restaurant, one of Denver’s best dim sum spots, serves a spectacular duck noodle soup: Tender pieces of well-seasoned, slow-roasted meat melt into a comforting chicken-and-pork-based broth. Soft egg noodles and broccoli add depth and texture to the savory Chinese-style soup.
Drink This: Skip the wine, and choose a dry Chinese beer like Tsingtao. 2825 W. Alameda Ave., 303-922-2822