Just have to share this duck recipe!

I love duck breasts–it’s a great way to have duck when you are trying to do single-serving cooking since the breasts are readily available frozen from the supermarket. There are some in my freezer now, and one of my favorite citrus fruits is a lovely blood orange.

I was just perusing the WordPress and my FaceBook updates and saw this recipe for “Duck and Orange Salad with Duck Crackling”  from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen.  The pictures came very close to having me drooling all over by keyboard–such perfectly cooked duck and that jewel-like blood orange gel!

I’ve never tried cooking duck breasts without the skin–but that would make it much simpler than searing them with the skin on but this looks like it would be well worth every bit of effort. And the crackling–yum!

I think I saw blood oranges at The Fresh Market last time I was there!

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Duck breast salad

For my Christmas Eve supper I fixed pan-seared duck breast–there were two in the package and that meant leftovers. I could have had a second meal had I not been a bit greedy and 20170107_182359eaten part of the second one. So leftovers–just enough for a salad.

A very simple salad made with arugula and radicchio for the greens (just a bit of bitterness to counter the fat of the duck),  Fuyu persimmon, pecans, and the thinly sliced duck breast.

For the dressing, I decided that the leftover sauce that was used for the cabbage and rutabaga side dish for Christmas dinner could make a second appearance–with a little help from an infused oil from Bull City Olive Oil. (Yes, I’ve gotten into infused oils since I discovered some quality ones.) The sauce was lime juice, lime zest, and buckwheat honey but I needed something more–I tasted it with plain (but very good olive oil). That gave me an excuse to go back and do some more tasting and shopping. I tasted several infused oils and decided that the chipotle infused oil would add just the right bit of spark to the leftover sauce.

I made a vinaigrette using about 2:1 proportions of oil and sauce, tossed the greens, persimmon, and some pecans with it; making a perfect bed for the sliced duck breast that was quickly warmed in a skillet. The finishing touch was just a bit more chipotle oil–just a few drops–on the sliced duck breast.

Yum! A great light supper from recycled leftovers, although I’d be more than happy to serve a freshly cooked duck breast this way as well.

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Christmas evening supper

Christmas eve–what’s for supper? Your basic duck breast, pan-seared and dressed with some of the spoils of my visit to Bull City Olive Oil. Just a take-off on a vinaigrette, but what fun. A nice fatty duck breast pan-seared so that the skin is cracklin’ crispy–with a very simple sauce–fruity.

Turn off the smoke alarm so you won’t be interrupted while cooking. You need to start with a skillet that will tolerate high heat–it needs to be almost smoking hot to begin–and no worries about sticking given the fat in the duck skin. I used my favorite carbon steel skillet–very well cured (now black and nonstick), and has the advantages of cast iron, without the weight. Just the right size for two duck breasts.

20161224_173256I had thought that perhaps just a drizzle of one of the infused vinegars would be good, but after tasting the vinegars with a piece of breast that was loose in the package, I decided it needed  more complexity, so I started with  extra-virgin olive oil infused with mushroom and sage–awesome as a condiment in its own right, but for nice fatty duck it needs to be brightened a bit with one of the infused balsamic vinegars. Decisions, decisions!

I had black mission fig, black cherry, and blackberry with ginger. After tasting I decided that blackberry-ginger was what I wanted this evening, though any of these would have been good with duck. I didn’t use typical vinaigrette proportions but I did emulsify the oil and the vinegar (1:1). The mushroom-sage oil is very earthy and a great contrast to the fruitiness of the blackberry with that little spark of ginger.

20161224_174026To prep the breasts I patted them dry and scored the skin side, careful not to cut into the meat–just to help the fat render while pan-searing. You need a very sharp knife so that just the weight of the knife pulled across the skin will cut into it. Then I salted the meat side of the breasts and let them sit for about 20 minutes to season.

After patting them dry I put them into a  very hot skillet, skin side down, and cooked until most of the fat rendered and the skin side was brown and crispy (about 5 to 8 minutes), reducing the heat a bit to keep them from getting too brown before a sufficient amount of fat had rendered. Then turned them and continued to cook until the temperature was 135ºF by instant read thermometer (about 5 minutes).

While the breasts were searing, I whisked the oil and vinegar together, and got the roasted potatoes out of the oven. While the breasts rested (and continued with carry-over cooking), I poured off the excess fat from the pan, left just enough to  sauté a mix of  baby arugula and radicchio for a side. Very quick. Very tasty!

The bitterness of the arugula and radicchio was a great contrast to the richness of the duck, and the blackberry-ginger/mushroom-sage sauce. (Blackberry and sage are awesome together–makes me want to try a sorbet with that combination.)  The Les Hérétiques wine (old vine Carignane grapes) has lots of berry fruit (blackberry  with some earthiness, and minerals) all in all a great wine for this meal even though it’s just my “house” wine.

All together a very flavorful supper for no more time than it took.  So many possible flavor variations possible with this simple sauce. A son gôut!

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Confit taste without the labor

From The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion, you’ll find that the term “confit” is the from the method of cooking meat slowly, at low temperature. This (in South-West France) is frequently duck or goose.Yes–you read that correctly: it’s cooked in fat after being salted and seasoned, and is stored in fat. Before refrigeration it was a method of preserving meat–duck or goose, or pork in their own fat.  Cooking killed microbes and sealing in fat and sealing in the fat (similar to putting paraffin over jam or jelly) prevented exposure to additional microbes. The temperatures usually given for traditional confit are below boiling (212°F or 100°C) but high enough that the internal temperature of the meat will be over 140°F (60°C)–usually around  160 °F to 180°F (60 °C to 80°C) leave the confit more tender (McGee).

If you’re thinking g “Ewww, fat”, not to worry. Fat does not penetrate into the meat. I’ve seen suggestions in several blogs that you can get the same effect by braising in liquid very slowly, and then rubbing fat onto the meat afterwards. I’ve not tested this; I know that the texture and flavor of confit (e.g. tuna) is very special, so I’m not likely to change my method anytime soon. Either way, we are not taking fast food here, at least until after we get the confit made). We are talking long, very slow cooking.

If you’re adding the traditional salting/seasoning, then we’re talking even longer–requires planning several days ahead. Then there’s the aging of the confit–the flavor does mature as it stands, and I, personally, would hate to lose that really great flavor and the lush texture of the traditional method. Time well spent, in my opinion.

Note that the image here is thanks to NPR, the salt website.

A friend recently emailed me a link for Counterfeit Duck Confit (NPR) since she knows that I like that sort of thing–in other words, I like a peasant cooking. I’ve not tried this recipe yet–weather is just too damn hot to even think of turning on the over or even having a burner on for very long (induction cooking is a help) but my appetite isn’t set for duck yet–later when the weather is cool. Despite my lack of appetite for duck confit right now, this is a recipe that I do want to share and that I’ll be making when the weather is cooler.

You’re asking why I’m sharing this if I haven’t tried it?  Well looks like an excellent recipe to me, and it’s from David Lebovitz–I pay attention to his recipes, since I’ve never made on that was anything but excellent. My reservation is that although the duck legs are going to taste very good, that I will not measure up to traditional duck confit.  It’s my excuse to get a bunch of duck legs (which I almost always have to special order so it’s a lot of duck legs) and taste this side-by-side with my traditional confit. The caption is a link to the NPR site and the full recipe and the commentary.  You’ll note that this is still not fast food, though is easier than the traditional method.

One of the important things for the texture of confit is “slow and low” cooking. While this is slow (3 hours probably begins to qualify for “slow”), I don’t think it qualifies for the “low” as the temperatures used are 300 °F for 2-1/2 hours of the baking, and 375 °F for 15 minutes.  I have no doubt at all that these duck legs will taste wonderful–but as Lebovitz stated–it’s not true confit. Some serious comparisons are in order here–but pleasurable since I love duck!

. . . .a son goût

Fig season

ripening fig

Excitement. . . .

Anticipation is one of the good things about seasonal foods. I know some have already had fresh figs this season, but not here yet. I’m anticipating that day when I see that luscious, brownish-reddish fruit, the little drop of nectar at the bottom telling me its ready to eat. It’s like the anticipation of the first asparagus in the spring, or the first home-grown tomato in the heat of the summer. The very first of a seasonal food–even if it’s only a single fig found ready to eat, need to be appreciated without adornment so that the appreciate the season, not the sauce or other accompaniments. Those come later when the figs, asparagus, or tomatoes are more abundant–maybe even a little overwhelming.

The first of the brown turkey figs are starting to ripen now–they are straggling in–the figs are ranging from very tiny to several that have been mostly devoured by birds, to one that was ready for me to eat–but lots of tiny ones that I can look forward to.

Mornings may find me with my latte visiting the fig tree in hopes of a fresh-off-the-tree, warm from the sunshine, figs for breakfast.

There are so many easy things to do with figs:

The anticipation of watching them ripen, hoping that you’ll get them before the birds. . .so many easy and delightful ways to enjoy this luscious fruit during its season.

 

A strange coincidence this afternoon

I truly love technology, especially when it lets me find marvelous things. If you’ve been here before, you’ll note the change of format. Well, it’s entailed a LOT of editing, link checking, replacing photographs that somehow disappeared in the switch.  So, I’m likely a little squirrely side. (Frankie would probably flat-out bitchy since the last time he walked across the keyboard.) I was just editing a blog post on Roast Duck with Fresh Fig Sauce, thinking that since it’s summertime, there will be figs. . . .

My email popped up notification of a  “like”  from a blog that I just discovered and started following.   From Alfred’s with Love.  WordPress put this one up on my list of recommended blogs yesterday, and I went to check it out.  I liked, I followed.Thank you, WordPress!

I’m seriously addicted to good writing about food, eating, dining, or even just the occasional graze, or an excellent sandwich (See Bibliography page).  As usual, the WordPress email included some links–Sea Bass and eat it caught my eye, and I was just roaming around. Perhaps because I had just been looking at duck on my blog I pulled down the recipe index and clicked on duck.

What I found first was Duck à l’epoisses. Epoisses is one of my two favorite cheeses (the other being Brin d’Amour or Fleur de Maquis).  I’d never thought of combining it with duck until I saw this recipe, and it’s left me drooling on my keyboard, even if it is so hot right now that I’d not want duck for dinner. This is a keeper of a recipe–come some cooler days and I’ll be looking for Epoisses cheese to try this (unfortunately it’s not one that I can just walk into the cheese shop and get here in Durham).

You’ve got the links here; you really should go check out this blog because there delightful reading, and some great anticipation with the recipes.

Pheasant with Green Chiles

I’ve done my usual scrounge through the post-holiday leftover at the grocery store, as usual, come home with some goodies. My local Harris Teeter had pheasants on sale so I’m looking for inspiration.

Admittedly, I’m starting with farm-raised pheasant rather than wild. The flavor is different–milder–and as the wild are not so fat and sassy as farm-raised, the wild can be trickier to cook.  I have farm-raised (still good eating) so I have a bit more freedom in how to cook them.  If you’re fortunate enough to have wild pheasant, here’s some information on cooking those. (If you have wild ones, I’d love to help you eat those–and perhaps pick a wine to go with them.)

The post that I’ve reblogged below provided some inspirations for a starting place.

the chef mimi blog

In my post entitled Pheasant, I talked about how for years I’d disregarded the lovely pheasant as a gourmet protein, and decided it was finally time to give it the respect it deserves. I’ve had so many pheasants in my freezer over the years, but to me they were just fiddly, bony little birds to which I had no time to dedicate.

Pheasants not only require some butchering and de-boning skills, one must also be careful cooking them. Pheasant breasts, which I’m cooking today, are darker than chicken breasts, but not moist like chicken thighs or dark turkey meat. So I knew I had to be patient and attentive, which are not my strong suits.

The recipe that I immediately thought of using with the pheasant breasts is one from the Africa cookbook of the Foods of the World cookbook series. The recipe is from South Africa, and the…

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