Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
Duck is a fairly common appetizer in an airplane premium cabin, but it is rare to see it as a main course. In fact, in all my years of flying I’ve had duck as a main course only once. It happened to be on United Airlines and happened to be very tasty.
I’m still somewhat homebound due to pandemic-related shutdowns and my wife recently had a baby. That has left me with primary cooking responsibility, something I now greatly enjoy. As oddly as it sounds, I’m drawing inspiration from airline meals. Tonight’s special: duck.
The inspiration came from a flight from Los Angeles to London in 2017. On the menus:
Char siu duck
Swiss chard with pancetta, sautéed apple
My understanding is that char siu means Chinese-style barbecue. However with the chard, pancetta, and sautéed apple the dish didn’t seem (or taste) very Chinese to me…
That said, I thought it was a very delicious combination and one of the better main courses I have had on United (which may be, sadly, why I have not seen it on the menu in a couple years).
Confession that will turn the stomachs of my dear vegetarian readers: I love the skin. It was crispy and delicious.
Anyway, this is my dinner goal for tonight. Maybe one day I’ll do a cooking program like Ben and Tiffany did…
What is your favorite airline meal to make at home?
Ah, I love duck! It is underutilized in American kitchens, in my opinion. Duck breasts are so easy too – score the skin, season, and into a very hot pan! Doesn’t need more than salt and pepper
Braised short ribs. Hard to screw them up.
And yet they still somehow turn out mostly dry on United.
Not today. It was moist with a delicious side sauce and the beef just fell apart. Mmmmm!
Delta used to serve Long Island duck breast in J from JFK. Scrumptious! The secret is to score the skin and render the fat slowly until crispy. Sweet reduced sauces enhance the flavor. Bon Appetit!
I learned how to make mezze, including baba ganoush, hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh. Normally I buy these at the deli, but it closed for 3 months, including takeout. They’re very easy and taste better than store-bought.
I would never eat duck , not for all the tea in China. Such beautiful birds..
Each and every single mezze dish? Beyond the 4 you mentioned? Impressive, given there are dozens and dozens of dishes that fall under the mezze moniker…
Duck is amazing! And the skin if the best part! I also love crispy chicken skin 😉
Might want to add “and I” after “my wife” in the first sentence.
It wasn’t me squeezing her out! 😉
Duck confit makes an occasional appearance on Qatar in Business. It’s always been perfectly cooked in my experience too.
The only 2 cuisines that can do duck justice would be Chinese (PEK style) and French (à la orange). But to have this option on a flight? It’s rather daring, if not avant garde, for the flight menu. The fatty oils will keep the full flavor at 35000’ and the it will also retain moisture better than other meats served.
And duck confit on QR: it’s cheating because you’re serving coarsely chopped leftover duck (often served cold) instead of serving a full cut of meat.
I found a small typo.
This is “Char Siu” Duck, not Char Sui. 叉焼鴨 in Chinese/Japanese.
…and I loved this duck when UA started Polaris.
As a United flight attendant, during many years of travel, entrees featuring duck have become more prominent. We had Duck a l’orange served on Flights leaving several countries in Europe, and it went over well. I thought it was moist and flavorful. Our flights from Beijing frequently served duck breast, and they were pretty good, too, albeit more popular with the Chinese.
had a great filet on DL biz once but best meals overall on Lufthansa First Class …starting with the caviar and champagne,,