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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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

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.

More on duck with fresh fig sauce

This duck with fresh fig sauce is such wonderful treat that I’m experimenting with ways to do this for one, or maybe two people.  I’ve always made stock from the leftover duck carcass and put that in the freezer.

I have also made the duck-fig bouillon to just short of the final reduction and put some in the freezer, with the figs (no idea how they will fare) to see if I can adapt this recipe to be done with pan-seared duck breasts, which seem to be readily available from the supermarket.  I want to be able to taste the bouillon from the freezer with some made with just the frozen duck stock and fresh figs to see how it has held up to the freezing.

I have enough friends who like duck that I can do a whole roast duck occasionally, and have the carcass to make stock so it’s always on hand from the freezer; however, if you don’t want to do the whole duck or the two-duck recipe, you can obtain duck-veal demi-glace from D’Artagnan and that would certainly be a good starting point from which to begin.  I have used this  product before in making cassoulet and was very pleased with it.

I’ll be reporting on the results of this experiment soon as the weather is cooling off and more robust food begins to appeal–and the last of the figs on the tree are ripening.

Roast duck with fresh fig sauce

No–it’s not a single serving, but it’s so good that you just have to make it when there are fresh figs available.  So invite friends and enjoy.

Adapted from In Search of the Perfect Meal, a collection of writing by Roy Andries de Groot, pp 148-150.

  • 2 Long Island ducks (one about 2-1/2 pounds, and one about 4-1/2 to 5 pounds).
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped with leaves
  • 3 springs of fresh parsley
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • 12 whole fresh figs (I like black mission, but any good ripe fresh fig will work)
  • 2 ounces French Orgeat, almond syrup
  • about 2 cups chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup white wine, preferably Sancerre
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons sweet butter

Ducks: Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.  Rub the ducks inside and outside with the lemon. Prick the underside skin to allow fat to run out.  Place the ducks on a rack in an open roasting pan and roast until the breasts are pink (usually no more than about 45 to 50 minutes).

Stock: While the ducks are roasting, put chopped onion, chopped carrots, chopped celery and parsley springs into  a 2-quart sauce pan. Pour a pint of cold water over these and bring rapidly to a boil.  Stir, and reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering until the duck carcass is ready to go in.

Figs: Put figs in a 1-quart saucepan.  Dribble the Orgeat over them and pour enough of the chicken stock over them to cover. Heat this to a gentle simmer and continue simmering, covered, until the figs are warm and puffed up (usually 5 to 10 minutes).  The stock should be vaguely sweet with the fig juice.  Remove the figs (carefully) and keep warm in a covered container.

Now boil the fig-chicken stock hard to reduce to about half and concentrate its sweetness.  Hold covered until you need it later.

Back to the roasting ducks: When the breasts are pink, put the larger one in a covered casserole and let stand tightly covered over extremely low heat on top of the stove, gently ripening in its own juices for about an hour.

Carve off the breast, legs, thighs and wings of the smaller duck and put them into the covered casserole with the larger duck.

Chop the carcass of the smaller duck into pieces, about 8 pieces, and put them into the 2-quart saucepan with the vegetables; press the pieces down into the liquid fairly tightly. If necessary add more water to cover.  Continue simmering, covered, until the stock is needed later.

Skim off the fat from the pan in which the ducks were roasted and set the pan over a burner, and deglaze with the cup of white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the fond.  Pour this deglazing mixture into the simmering duck bouillon.

Completion and assembly: Preheat grill.  Strain the duck bouillon, return to the saucepan and boiling it hard to reduce it and concentrate the flavor.  Reheat the fig bouillon to just bubbling.  While finishing the sauce here, you must taste continually the duck and the fig stocks to get them just right to combine.  If the sauce is too sweet it will overwhelm the duck–you want just a very delicate on sweetness in this sauce so that you still appreciate the “duckiness” of the meat. Defat the duck stock.  Pour the fig bouillon into the duck stock, add the 2 tablespoons of shallots, and continue boiling to further reduce the combined sauce.

Place the figs on a platter and quickly glaze them under the broiler–for just a minute or two.

Now, carve the duck (the whole bird) and the parts from the casserole. Set portions on warmed plates and garnish with the glazed figs.  When the sauce has just the right sweetness, turn the heat down to below simmer, add a fair amount of white pepper–enough to cut across the sweetness of the sauce, but not enough to “prick your throat”.  Do not let the sauce boil after adding the pepper or it will have a bitter taste.

When the sauce is just right, monter au beurre. (Melt the butter on the surface, a small piece at a time, stirring in.  This will give the sauce a luxurious, velvety mouth-feel.  Pour the sauce around (not over) the duck and figs on the plate.  Rush them to the table.

Wine: Because of the sweetness of the sauce, red wine is not  quite right with this dish.  The recommended wine (from the French restaurant where this dish is served) is a white burgundy.  I did this with a Meursault and it was luxurious.   For domestic wine, a California PinotChardonnay from the Alexander Valley was recommended.

Even though this is a fairly complicated preparation and definitely not a single serving it is an exquisite dish.  If you have duck at other times, by all means make stock from the carcasses and freeze it. If you have the stock, you can do this sauce at any time you have the fresh figs available and perhaps serve with pan-seared duck breast without roasting the whole bird.