Note:This was an instant hit with the tasters in The Times Test Kitchen. The olives help thicken the sauce and flavor the duck spectacularly. The recipe, from "Paula Wolfert's World of Food" (Harper & Row: 1988), is adapted from a Minorcan specialty that uses olives from that island. Wolfert suggests Nafplion or any light, small, firm cracked green olive with some character. The only olive she doesn't advise is the Spanish Manzanilla.

1 1/4 cups finely chopped onions

1 head garlic, roasted, halved crosswise

1 large stalk celery, chopped

2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 vanilla bean, chopped

1 (5-pound) duckling, fresh or thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped, peeled, seeded tomatoes

3 tablespoons dry Marsala, Sherry or Madeira

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cloves

8 large shallots

1 1/2 cups small light-green cracked olives