The Oak Park Farmers Market’s 45th season is underway from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October. Vendor stalls are moved from the usual Pilgrim Church parking lot site on Lake Street to nearby streets to allow room for safe social distancing and preorders offered via an online app as part of a pilot program.

This week at the market I took quite a haul. For volunteer appreciation day, the vendors were extremely generous and each of us received a box and a bag of produce and products from the market. On top of that, I placed my usual online order. Plus, my freezer and pantry are filled to the brim from previous weeks, my garden is winding down and I have put up most of my harvest. Therefore, it is time to start cooking!

Possibly my favorite poultry is duck, and I always mean to cook it more often but I forget to buy enough when I have the chance. I often find myself looking through my freezer thinking, “I wish I had more duck in here”. This year, I did think ahead and ordered a duck or two from Finn’s Ranch every week I had the chance to. Duck seems very expensive compared to chicken or turkey, especially when you consider it isn’t as “meaty” as the more common poultry. But if you are careful to use every part of the duck, you can really get your money’s worth. First of all, duck is extremely fatty with a very delicious, and some say very nutritious, fat. Secondly, the leftover meat tastes wonderful shredded and used in a variety of ways. Also, the bones make a wonderful soup stock. 

For this week’s duck meal I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have an abundance of delicious apples right now. After a quick internet search, I found this recipe for apple duck. I followed it pretty closely except I used apple juice instead of lemon and orange. I think that pineapple juice would probably work too. Since I had purchased the Prairie Wind Autumn Roasting Kit as well as brussels sprouts from Nichols Farm & Orchard, I made a side of pan-roasted veggies that paired nicely with the apple duck. My veggies were tasty, but I would still like to try some of Prairie Wind’s own recipes from their website.

Since the leftover duck is just as delicious as the original dish, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to cook it. In addition to soup stock and rendering/freezing the duck fat for later use, I shredded and reheated the duck with some River Valley Ranch mushrooms, powdered garlic, and onions. I added a dash of homemade hot sauce and made duck tacos with mushrooms! Yum! I also took some fattier parts of the duck, sliced thin, added salt and made duck “bacon” that I ate with my favorite Breadman cinnamon swirl toast. I also found a couple of delicious-looking recipes that I haven’t been able to make yet, but I’d like to share them anyway: This version of duck tacos and this duck stir fry are on my list of things to cook.

The last market mouthful I’d like to share with you this week is the Katic Breads chocolate croissant. This tasty morsel came in my volunteer appreciation bag and I wanted nothing more than to savor it with a cup of coffee…except I am allergic to butter. So of course I gave the croissant to my teenage son Victor, a one-time youth judge of the OPFM pie contest. I told him to taste test it as if he were judging the pie contest. Here is what he wrote about the croissant, “Very flakey! Even the tiny flakes have a ton of sweet flavor. This croissant is the perfect amount of buttery. It has CHOCOLATE! This chocolate is bitter yet sweet and flavorful dark chocolate.”

To wrap up this week’s blog post I just want to remind you that there are just two more weeks to the market, Saturday, October 24, and Saturday, October 31. Now is the perfect time to shop for your Halloween pumpkins and decorations at the farmers market! 

*Guest blogger Laura Lencioni is the chair of the Oak Park Farmers Market Commission.

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