Duck for the Holidays

Melissa Clark’s latest is perfect for an elegant, small-scale celebration.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. This is a perfect week to sketch out your plans for Christmas dinner if you celebrate that holiday, and perhaps to sketch out a plan for a blowout meal even if you don’t. The end of the year is upon us. It’s time to bid it farewell and hope for much joy and safety and light in the one to come.

Roast beef will be the call for some — a prime rib roast, with Yorkshire pudding, crisp roasted potatoes, Vichy carrots. Ham is the ticket for others, glazed and salty sweet, with potato rolls and mustard, a strong cocktail, some carols. Roast goose? I think this year I prefer Melissa Clark’s crisp roast duck (above), which is elegant and not too gigantic, a perfect play for a small celebration. It throws off a lot of fat I’ll save for duck-fat potatoes in January, with watercress and a cast-iron steak.

Get all that into your New York Times Cooking recipe box. Later you can shop and execute.

In the meantime: dinner. I like these smoked Gouda and broccoli flatbreads, which go over well with adults and children alike, with a gentle smokiness that recalls grilled pizza. Also, Goan pork vindaloo, an Indian rethinking of the Portuguese colonizers’ carne de vinha d’alho, this version developed for a slow cooker.

I’ll suggest mushroom Bourguignon as well, and this vegan cacio e pepe. And if you find yourself jammed for time, do take a look at this olive-oil fried egg, which makes for a terrific breakfast for dinner. (Are there duck eggs at your market? Try that recipe with a few of those. Not to get too fancy on you, but olive-oil fried duck eggs on a green salad with a few slices of the salt-cured Spanish tuna known as mojama? That’s living.)

You could make chicken Marbella this week. You should make shrimp Creole. I could see my way to a smoky lentil stew with leeks and potatoes, too, with a gingerbread sheet cake with whipped ganache frosting for dessert. Many of us have been cooking most every day for the better part of two years. We know what we’re doing in the kitchen now. Revel in your competence!

There are thousands and thousands more recipes waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. Yes, you need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. I hope, if you haven’t done so already, that you will subscribe today. (Gift subscriptions are available as well.)

We are in the wings if you run into any issues along the way, either in your kitchen or our code. Just drop us a line at [email protected] Someone will get back to you. (If you’d like to bark or cheer, you can also write to me. I’m at [email protected] I read every letter sent.)

Now, it’s a long distance from anything to do with confectioners’ sugar or flaky sea salt, but do take a look at the list of the best art exhibitions of 2021 that Holland Cotter and Roberta Smith compiled for The Times. There is much beauty, and much to think about there.

You might want to check out “Yesteryear: Stories From Home,” a podcast exploring life in a small Hudson River town just north of New York City. It reminds me, somehow, of the marvelous, short-lived Wigwag magazine.

Here’s a cool story from our Victoria Petersen about how soda shops — chain and independent — have proliferated across Utah and the Mountain West. A fact from deep within the article: Americans consume an average of 37 gallons of soda, per person, every year.

Finally, will you step into the wayback machine? Here’s John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme, Part 1,” live in Seattle in 1965. Wow. I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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