Duck, Frenchy Things, Game, Offal, preserving

Ducked up.

In his 2003 autobiography “The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen,” Jacques Pépin relates an anecdote about stopping by a duck farm during a mushroom-picking outing with his friend Jean-Claude and Jean-Claude’s daughters. The little girls select a live duck for dinner, money exchanges hands, Jean-Claude wrings the duck’s neck, and the four of them are run off the property for their cruelty. “[E]ven in a rural area,” Pépin awesomely understates, “my attitude toward farm animals caused some misunderstandings with the neighbors.”

I still don’t get what that farmer thought was going to happen to those ducks if she didn’t expect them to wind up as dinner. That outcome seemed pretty obvious – a couple of French dudes in a pickup on the way back from mushrooming? Don’t kid yourself, lady – those ducks weren’t going to be anyone’s pets.

Duck is inherently festive and restaurant-y. Think Peking duck, canard à l’orange, caneton à la presse. I think that’s because people don’t like to cook it at home. To the uninitiated, duck can seem like a huge production. Whereas a roast chicken is universally comprehensible and manageable – season with salt, tuck a lemon and some herbs in the cavity, and throw it into the oven for an hour – duck presents multiple challenges. First, there’s the fat. Roasting a whole duck generates huge quantities of fat, which smokes up the oven like crazy, and if you don’t separate the skin from the breast before roasting, great pockets of jelllyish fat can cling to the meat, which is kind of gross. Second, there’s the doneness problem. Chicken legs and thighs do take longer to cook than the breast, but not much, and you can roast the chicken whole without sacrificing the quality of either. In contrast, it’s virtually impossible to roast a whole duck and end up with a medium-rare breast and properly cooked legs. Duck legs are fairly rich in connective tissue and require fairly long, slow cooking or they seem sinewy and tough; duck breast, other than the fatty layer of skin, are lean and tender, and long cooking not only toughens them but makes them taste livery. And third, duck seems super expensive considering the yield. With the exception of magret from force-fed ducks, the breast is skimpy relative to the bird’s overall size. A five pound duck really only yields enough meat to feed two or three people.

The solution? Break it down. Even though few things are better looking than a whole mahogany-glazed roast duck straight out of the oven, a broken-down duck tastes better and offers more cooking options. You can roast, braise, or confit the legs; cure the breasts as “pastrami,” score the skin and grill them, or cook sous vide; make stock from the generous frame; reduce the skin to fat and crackling. You’ll find that you can use every part of the duck – when I broke mine down, all that was left were a couple of pieces of sinew holding the tenders to the breasts. And even those got thrown into the stockpot. You should have no waste at all.

Duck breast:

Thanks to Andrew Little of Sheppard Mansion B&B for the inspiration – I saw the photo of this duck preparation on his Facebook page and initially thought he’d scraped the fat from the skin and re-rolled it around the breast, until he told me it was cabbage.

In this preparation. the skinned duck breasts are rolled in blanched savoy cabbage leaves and cooked at a controlled temperature sous vide for a uniform medium rare doneness. Or actually, just past medium rare – the breasts are an even pink throughout. To form the cylinders of duck, I used Activa GM transglutaminase to bind the duck to itself; otherwise, the natural shape is flat and oblong. You can skip this part of the exercise and just wrap the breasts as they are. Don’t fold the duck into a cylinder and wrap it in savoy if you don’t have transglutaminase, though, because it won’t hold together. Just wrap them in their natural shape.

4 duck breasts (from 2 ducks), skinned and deboned
salt and pepper
2 tsp transglutaminase Activa GM
4 large leaves savoy cabbage, washed well (make a few extra for good measure)

Place a large stockpot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Blanch the savoy leaves. Remove with a skimmer and drain on clean kitchen towels. Blot off as much water as possible.

Place four pieces of plastic cling film on a clean surface. Each one should be large enough to accommodate the duck and be rolled over several times.

If using Activa, sprinkle on the inside (tender side) of the duck breast and roll to form cylinders. Season the outside of the cylinders with salt and pepper, on both sides. Otherwise, just place each duck breast in a savoy leaf, running perpendicular to the center vein, and roll tightly. Place in the cling film and roll it tightly, twisting off the ends to form little packages.

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Place in vacuum bags and seal. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, place the cylinders in double-zip freezer bags, three or four to a bag, and partially lower the bag into a large stockpot full of water to displace as much air as possible. Seal the bag tightly. You can double-bag if you’re worried about leakage.

Cook in an immersion circulator at 140F/60C for 25 minutes. Alternatively, bring a large pot of water to a simmer on the stovetop and turn off the heat. Add the bagged breasts and cover the pot. Leave off heat for about 15 minutes (note: this varies from 12-20 minutes based on thickness). Remove from the water bath.

Slice the rolls, still wrapped in plastic (to facilitate clean slicing). Remove the plastic and serve with your accompaniment of choice. In the picture below, the rolls are plated on Puy lentils in a golden turnip and butter puree, accompanied by a reduction of white wine and duck stock enriched with butter, and powdered duck crackling. Yeah, a little rich, but the duck breast is lean.

Duck breast, savoy, lentils. Powdered crackling in the foreground.

Duck legs:

Been there, done that. Use this recipe for duck confit. Bonus: you can use the confit for rillettes.

Duck liver:

Duck liver pâté:

1/2 lb duck livers (about two), veins removed
1 small onion, minced
1 leek (white only), julienned
several sprigs thyme
1 tbsp cognac
3 tbsp dry white wine
salt and pepper
3 oz butter (3/4 stick. or 6 tbsp)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Sweet onion confit:

1/2 c caramelized onion from this recipe
2 tbsp sherry vinegar

For the onion confit – combine the caramelized onion and sherry vinegar in a small saucepot. Bring to a simmer and stir until the vinegar is fully incorporated into the onion. Set aside.

Place a sauté pan over medium low heat and, when hot, add about 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Add the onions and leeks and sweat with the thyme until tender. Add the duck livers and cook, turning frequently, until the livers are warm throughout but not cooked hard. Do not brown. Add the cognac and wine and continue to sauté until the alcohol cooks off. Cool somewhat and transfer to a vitaprep or blender.

Blend the pâté ingredients. Add the butter in chunks and continue to blend until smooth. If you are inclined, pass through a tamis or sieve for a smooth texture. Chill.

Serve on toasted pain de campagne with a quenelle of onion confit.

Duck liver pâté, sweet onion confit

Duck skin:

This is where duck fat comes from. A standard-sized duck yields about a quart of duck fat (if you count the legs). The resulting crispy skin, or crackling, is a delicious fatty addition to salads and a nice garnish for poached or roasted meat.

For novelty, you can turn the crackling into powder. You need maltodextrin, specifically one formulated for a very low bulk density like N-Zorbit from National Starch or Malto from the Texturas line. If you use the stuff from the health food store, which I don’t recommend, you’re going to get a heavy, sweet, starchy product.

skin from 2 ducks (except for the leg quarters)
salt

To render the fat from the skin, prick the fatty side of the duck skin all over with a fork. Place in roasting pan a 300F/150C oven. Roast until the skin is crisp and golden, and most of the fat has rendered. Pour off the fat and reserve.

Cut the skin into smaller (1″) pieces. Freeze in a ziploc bag until ready to use; then roast in a pan in a 375F/190C oven until crisp and deep golden brown.

If you want to make really pretty, thin, crispy duck skin chips, first turn the skin fat-side up and scrape off as much fat as possible, in an even layer. Use that fat for rendering as described above. Trim the skin into rectangles or squares and place on a silpat-lined sheet pan. Season with salt and cover with another silpat and another sheet pan. Bake until the skin is crisp, flat, and golden brown (usually about 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the residual fat). Drain on paper towels.

Powdered duck crackling:

1 oz (28 g) duck crackling, roasted as specified above
12 g tapioca maltodextrin (N-Zorbit or similar), plus extra (you may need up to 40 g total).
salt

Blitz the duck crackling in a food processor until ground to an oily powder. Incorporate half the maltodextrin in the food processor, scraping down the bowl if necessary. It probably will resemble a thick paste. Don’t panic. Scrape it down and add more maltodextrin and blitz again. If the powder and fat are at all moist, add more maltodextrin and blitz again. Repeat until necessary for a powder. Store tightly sealed (with a dessicant packet if available).

Cracklings.

Grinding.

Powdered duck crackling.

Duck stock:

Duck stock is pure gold. Once you’ve made stock, re-use the bones for remouillage (literally, re-wetting) and reduce that to glace. You’ll be able to add ducky goodness and body to your sauces.

5 lbs duck bones (from 2 ducks)
One leek, washed well to remove all dirt and grit and roughly chopped
One medium onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, scraped and cubed
2 stalks celery, diced
1 star anise
3 cloves
1 large or two small bay leaves
About 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together
6-8 black peppercorns

Place the bones in a large stockpot. Cover with filtered water, making sure there remains enough room for vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Be sure not to let the stock boil as agitation makes the stock more cloudy. As scum rises to the surface, skim it off with a spoon into a small bowl and discard. Simmer in this manner for about 20 minutes.

Add the vegetables and aromatics and add additional water to cover if necessary. Return to the simmer and skim additional foam or scum. Simmer, partially covered, for about five or six hours. Longer simmering won’t necessarily hurt, but you don’t enjoy that much additional benefit. Add water if necessary.

Strain through a chinois or a fine sieve, lined with cheesecloth if possible. Cool quickly; I generally use a bain marie filled with ice, but you can make an ice bath by stopping up your sink and fill it with ice and cold water about 1/3 the height of your container, place the container in the sink, and stir continuously until the contents are cool.

To store, ladle into freezer-safe containers, perhaps 3-4 cups each, and freeze. A layer of solid fat usually rises to the surface. Remove the fat before using the stock, and set aside.

Note: To pressure cook, throw everything into the pressure cooker with about 8 quarts of filtered water. Cover tightly and pressure cook for 30 minutes (at 15 psi; don’t include the time it takes to get to 15 psi or to cool down).

After straining the stock, return the bones to the pot and cover again with cold water. Bring to a simmer and skim additional foam or scum. Continue to simmer, partially covered, for at least six hours and up to twelve.

Strain through a chinois or a fine sieve, lined with cheesecloth if possible. Return to a clean pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce slowly, watching as the stock approaches the level of a heavy syrup once about an inch or less is left in the pan. Pour the stock into a small shallow pan and refrigerate to cool. When the glace has cooled, it should be quite solid. I generally cut the glace into cubes and freeze on a sheet pan before storing in a bag.

Remouillage.

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Confectionery, Duck, Frenchy Things, Leftover Recycling

Holiday Food Project 2010

Remember when we were kids, and we had endless wish lists of holiday gifts? Barbie Styling Head, Easy Bake Oven, Snoopy Sno Cone Machine, that sort of thing. I probably shouldn’t say any more, because I’m starting to sound like quite the retrograde feminine traditionalist, but you get the idea. Kids love stuff, and the winter holiday is primo stuff-buying season for kids. Adults too, as it turns out. When I first met my husband, I discovered that every holiday season, he and his mother engaged in the wholly pragmatic ritual of exchanging dog-eared catalogues with the desired merchandise circled within. I scoffed at this practice, of course, tarring it as an unromantic concession to the materialism of Christmas. We’re adults, I protested, and if you’re still buying holiday gifts for other adults, you should make an effort to know their tastes and interests. Really try to understand them as people, and buy them carefully chosen, meaningful gifts, not just turtlenecks from L.L. Bean and Borders gift cards.

I’m just going to tell this story about what a total load of bullshit my whole position on gifts turned out to be. Our protagonist doesn’t read this blog, so just let me have this, ok? Here’s what happened. Ever since my “thoughtful gifts” putsch of 2001, my mother in law and I exchanged gifts without any sort of holiday wish lists as a guide, with varying degrees of success or failure. Over the years, she bought me a series of mysteries – never registering that I hate mysteries and almost never read fiction. In 2005, I bought her a first edition of The World is Flat based on my knowledge that she reads the Times assiduously and admires everyone who writes in their pages (regardless of viewpoint, apparently), but totally ignorant of the fact that she already owned two copies. It kind of went like this every year. And then it was 2006. Right around Thanksgiving that year, my husband and I were sitting in his mother’s living room in suburban Philadelphia when my eye wandered over to a pair of two-dimensional copper cats in the window. The idea with these unbearably awful cats was that you could pose them in different ways so they could be attacking each other, frolicking, or just hanging out together. It’s possible she saw me looking at them. Does this seem like a nonsequitur? It’s not.

For a few years I had become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that my mother in law was spending so much money on the holidays since, as an adult, it’s not as though I really need any of this stuff, and she was headed toward retirement. Anything I really need (a new slate roof, second floor bathroom refurbishment) or want (rotovap, chamber sealer, lyophilizer) is way out of the range of reasonable gift expectations, and nearly everything else I can buy myself. So that Christmas, when I opened the square white box and unfolded several layers of tissue paper to find a pair of two-dimensional copper cats – expensive, two-dimensional copper cats – you can imagine how excited I felt. “Oh,” I said. “Just like yours.”

I since have conceded to my husband that the wish list method is superior to my idealized conception of gift-giving. Sometimes coups-d’états end with the restoration of the establishment, after all. As a matter of fact, I have adopted the wish list with the zealotry of the convert, making Amazon wishlists, evangelizing to my husband about their use, and publicly humiliating myself (as now) by repeating the story of my conversion at every available holiday opportunity. Actually, it doesn’t come up all that often. The moral of the story, though, is that you should make lists and exchange them to avoid being given unaesthetic “works of art” for the holidays, which you may have to trot out on future family visits to avoid uncomfortable questioning. But when list-exchanging would be awkward or socially inappropriate, the gift of food is never wrong.

Most people love either sugar or fat (admit it or not). Things have become more complicated over the years, as meat eatership is down, and so is sugar consumption. But your odds of making one or the other of these items work as a gift are pretty good. And to know which one to give your intended target, or whether to go back to the drawing board, you really have to make an effort to know their tastes and interests. See? You really can have it all. Happy holidays.

Figs with brandied ganache

Full disclosure: I did not conceptualize these figs in the first instance. Nat and I were killing time at a farmer’s market in Swarthmore (where my mother in law lives) when we encountered a vendor selling figs stuffed with ganache in boxes from Williams-Sonoma. We bought a small wooden box holding six figs and they were gone almost immediately. I thought, how hard could these be to make at home? Not hard. I mean, I’m not a pastry chef or confiseur by any means, and I worked it out on my first try.

The most difficult part of this exercise is dipping in the chocolate coating If you don’t already know, chocolate must be tempered to achieve that glossy snap at room temperature. This means that, once you melt the chocolate, you need to bring the temperature back down to 88F/31C and keep it there while you use it to coat your bonbons or whatever. There exist a couple of methods to temper chocolate, but in my opinion, the easiest is to melt chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches roughly 110F/43C, and then stir in cold chocolate (couverture chocolate works best because it has been pre-tempered) until the mixture reaches 88F. Because you must not rush the tempering process, this process may take a surprisingly long time. Keep the chocolate at 88F (up to 90F is fine) and work as quickly as you can. Don’t worry; because chocolate is relatively thick, it won’t lose heat immediately.

You can substitute another liquor for the brandy, but I chose a Spanish brandy (a Torres Jaime I solera) because it was a great pairing with the figs and the Spanish chocolate. Bourbon and some types of scotch whisky (particularly those aged in solera casks) would make excellent choices. Rum is a little cloying with the figs, in my opinion, unless you use something like Gosling’s Old or Santa Teresa 1792.

One thing: if choosing the second (injection) method below to fill the figs, you will need a syringe to fill the figs with ganache. This is not as deviant as it sounds. You can order an appropriately large syringe from L’Epicerie for about $4 or you can try to hit up your friendly neighborhood pharmacy. When I had my wisdom teeth out, years ago, I was told to keep my mouth clean with a syringe of warm water (there’s no needle). If you go the pharmacy route, the only difference is that you’ll have to refill the syringe more often, as it doesn’t hold as much.

One to two dozen dried figs, depending on size (I believe I used calimyrna, but see what you can find)
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Blanxart 80%), chopped
8 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp brandy

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Blanxart dark), divided

Make the ganache:

Bring the cream to a boil. Allow to cool to about 120F; bring to a second boil and cool again. Bring to a third boil and add the corn syrup. Immediately pour through a fine sieve over the chopped chocolate. Stir well with a silicone spatula; do not overwork or beat in air. When cool (at room temperature), stir in the brandy and incorporate completely. You must wait to room temperature or the addition of cool liquid to warm chocolate may cause the mixture to seize.

Lay a sheet of wax paper in a sheet pan. Fill the figs. Full disclosure: I only ever have used the second method to fill the figs; the first one is a guess but I know it will work.

First method: place plastic wrap on the surface of the ganache to prevent a skin from forming, and allow the ganache to solidify somewhat. Slice the bottom off each fig and, using a small spoon, hollow out some of the flesh. Fill with ganache (using a spoon or butter knife) and place, bottom side down, on the wax paper to solidify further.

Second method: Fit an iSi ProfiWhip canister with an injector needle. Charge with nitrous. Blow out each fig with just a puff (not too hard!) until each one just puffs up. This pushes the fig flesh toward the walls and makes it easier to fill each one with ganache while leaving the fig intact. See before/after shots below.

Before.

After.

Fill the syringe with ganache while still warm. It helps to use the smallest possible spoon. Working quickly (because once you push the plunger, the ganache will come out quickly), fill each fig from the center of the flat, plump bottom. Inject from the blowout point and push until the fig is full. Set injection-side down on the wax paper.

Injecting with ganache.

Prepare the dipping chocolate:

Melt 5 ounces of the dark chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches 110F/43C, and then turn off the heat. Remove the top pot from the boiler but do not take the water off the stove. Stir in cold chocolate small piece by small piece until the mixture reaches 88F. Because you must not rush the tempering process, this process may take a surprisingly long time. Set the double boiler back on top of the water and keep the chocolate at 88F (up to 90F is fine). Working as quickly as you can, dip the bottom of each fig into the couverture. Don’t worry; because chocolate is relatively thick, it will not lose heat immediately. If it begins to set up, return to the double boiler and bring back to 88F. Place the dipped figs on the wax paper after dipping. Leave about an inch between figs.

Figs, brandied ganache.


Duck rillettes

Looking for something for the meat glutton in your life? Duck rillettes ought to do it.

Here’s the thing. Rillettes are the easiest of the pâté-like meat preparations to make, and yet anyone who receives a little jar of duck rillettes from you will act as though you flew to the Loire River valley and picked it up specially. They should – as easy as rillettes are to make, they taste like a million bucks. Traditionally, in the Loire départements, the rillettes were made from pork belly and shoulder. You can and should do that as well, but all I had handy was duck confit, so that’s what you’re getting this time. I do have a nine pound belly in the reach in, though, and if I get around to it this weekend, I’ll make some pork rillettes.

Pack your product in these lidded jars, complete with rubber gaskets. Not only do they look incredible, but they really keep the air out (in combination with the layer of fat on the rillettes). If you’re really motivated, you even can make labels. Once packed, they will keep, unopened, for a couple of months in the refrigerator, longer in the freezer. Once opened, consume within ten days. Best with toast points, excellent with pickled onions and cornichons.

One recipe (six legs) duck confit, from this recipe, fat and all, chilled solid
½ cup Dijon mustard (I like to use a green peppercorn Dijon by Maille or Edmund Fallot but you don’t have to do that)
About 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorn

Lift the duck from the fat and measure out about 1 ½ c fat. Keep cold. Remove the duck meat from the bones and skin. In a bowl, combine all the duck meat, 2 tbsp mustard, a little black pepper (about ¼ tsp), and about ¼ c cold duck fat. Stir using a fork, incorporating the fat. Add another ¼ tsp pepper, another 2 tbsp mustard, and another ¼ c duck fat. Continue stirring. Taste at this point for texture, which should be rich and neither lean-meaty nor greasy. If it is too lean, add another 2 tbsp to ¼ c duck fat (or more) and 2 tbsp mustard. Otherwise, just taste for mustard and pepper.

Allow the remaining duck fat to melt until just liquid.

Pack into sterilized lidded jars and top with ¼ inch liquid duck fat. Insert rubber gasket into jar and close. Keep refrigerated and do not open until ready to serve.

All packed up.

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Duck, Frenchy Things, preserving

A year and a day.

I started this blog a year ago and a day. Since then, I’ve answered dozens of questions and, in the process, improved my own cooking skills. So I want to thank everyone who reads these pages – I hope it’s been good for you, because it certainly has been good for me.

Last week, shopping in the H-Mart, I came across a beautiful display of duck leg quarters. I won’t lie to you. Breaking down duck isn’t exactly a huge pain in the ass, but the breasts are not as interesting to me as the dark meat. Breast meat, if cooked just a little too long, has a sort of liver-y quality; in my opinion, the leg meat is ground zero for that classic duck flavor. At the H-Mart, the quality of the duck varies. Sometimes the legs seem suspiciously lean – are these wild ducks, somehow? These leg quarters, however, were thickly coated with creamy white fat and smooth skin. Perfect for confit.

Confit is, above all, a preservation technique. In southwestern France – throughout Gascogne and elsewhere in the western Occitan provinces – waterfowl, like duck and goose, have for many years been salted and then cooked slowly at a relatively low temperature, immersed in their own rendering fat. The resulting product, if salty enough, could withstand storage without refrigeration for months. Today, confit is not necessary for preservation, and it tends to be somewhat less salty. It is no less rich, though, particularly when the meat is shredded and combined with some of the poaching fat to make rillettes.

In accordance with modern tastes, I don’t salt the duck legs that heavily. I like to use about two teaspoons of kosher salt for each meaty leg. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough salt for safe room temperature preservation. And after curing nearly eight pounds of duck legs and then slowly cooking in a 220F oven for many hours, I asked my husband to turn off the oven. Then I totally forgot about the duck and went to bed. In the morning, I went to the office. Around lunchtime, I remembered. When I got home, I threw it out. Not enough salt for safe room temperature preservation.

So we begin again. I went back to H Mart and bought eight more pounds of duck leg quarters. I salted them and layered them with thyme branches. I cured them overnight and cooked them slowly in a 220F oven. I took them out of the oven and didn’t forget.

Crispy duck confit, savoy cabbage, green peppercorn mustard sauce.

Let the duck cool in the fat for at least 45 minutes before removing it (to package it for storage, or to cook it for immediate service). It needs to cool off a little bit to firm up so it doesn’t collapse.

Savoy cabbage is aromatic, slightly pungent, and provides a great balance to the fatty richness of the duck. The green peppercorn mustard sauce brings a little acidity and the sweet, round taste of butter.

For the confit:

6 lbs duck legs (about 8 large legs)
1/4 c kosher salt
about 12 thyme branches

The day before cooking the legs, season the legs evenly with salt (about 2 tsp per leg), and layer in a nonreactive pan with thyme branches in contact with the meaty side of the duck legs. If you have a single layer, place the thyme on the bottom of the pan and lay the duck skin side-up. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 24 hours (as much as 48).

Preparing to cure.

Oven 220F/105C

Remove the duck from refrigeration and transfer to a dutch oven or cast iron pot with a lid, layering with the thyme. Place a layer of parchment between the top of the duck and the lid, especially if using cast iron (to prevent condensation from building up and rusting the pan.

Place in the oven and cook for about six hours. After 2 hours, turn heat down to 200F/95C. Remove from the oven; remove the lid and parchment. Rest the confit for 45-60 minutes before transferring to a container for storage, covered in fat, or proceeding to the next step.

Right out of the oven.

To crisp the duck leg confit, oven 250F/120C. Place a skillet over medium high heat and, when hot, place 2 tbsp duck fat in the pan. Add 4 duck leg quarters, skin side down, and baste with the fat. Do not crowd the pan (you may need to use two pans). When the skin is crisp and deep golden brown, flip the legs carefully (be careful – they may be prone to falling apart) and place the pan in the oven. Cook until heated through (about 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare the savoy.

Butter-braised savoy cabbage

Do you hate cabbage? Try this cabbage dish. The most important thing is to avoid overcooking the savoy – like all cabbages, it becomes unpleasantly pungent and a little skunky if you let it go too long.

If you are nervous about so much butter, you can cut the amount in half. Use vegetable oil in the initial cooking.

One head savoy cabbage, cored, quartered, and shredded (1/8″)
One large leek, white and light green only, washed well cut into 2″ segments, and julienned
2 tbsp white wine (such as Riesling or Viognier)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
salt and white pepper
chives, minced

Place a large skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add 1 tbsp butter or oil. Add the leeks and reduce heat slightly. Sweat the leeks until quite tender. Increase the heat slightly and add the savoy. Toss continuously to coat with oil and leeks. When the savoy begins to wilt (about 2 minutes), add the wine and toss, cooking the wine down. Once the savoy is bright green and tender, and the wine has evaporated, remove from heat and toss with the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with minced chives.

Green peppercorn mustard sauce

Pan with duck fond from crisping the legs
1/3 c white wine
1 1/2 tbsp green peppercorn Dijon mustard (or Dijon mustard if unavailable)
Optional: 2 tbsp duck or white veal glace de viande
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, divided

Remove the duck legs from the pan and drain on towels if necessary (otherwise, set aside on a plate). Pour off all but 1 tsp of duck fat. Return the pan to medium heat.

Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up the fond. Reduce to just before au sec (a sticky glaze). Add the mustard and cook, stirring, for a minute to take the edge off the mustard. Add the glace de viande and reduce by 1/3. Remove from heat and mount with the cold butter to form a glossy sauce.

Serve the crispy confit leg with the savoy and sauce.

Crispy duck leg confit, savoy, green peppercorn mustard.

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Leftover Recycling, Quick Meals

Leftover lunch.

At home today for Veteran’s Day, I couldn’t decide what to have for lunch.  Yesterday, my husband and I had a quick lunch at Urfa Tomato in Penn Quarter – I got the Euro Doner sandwich, as usual, and – as usual – only ate half of it, thinking I could eat the rest today.  Unfortunately, it’s in the refrigerator at the office, so I needed to find something else to eat.

Sometimes, when you have a lot of options, everything sounds good and nothing sounds great, and you wind up eating half a giant bag of potato chips.  To avoid that fate, I started rooting through the refrigerator for leftovers.  I found, in addition to the remains of a batch of flageolet purée from late last week, some leftover duck confit and some butter-braised leeks.  Then I remembered some leftover cooked spaghetti sitting vacuum packed in the reach-in.  Duck confit and beans are a classic combination, as are beans and leeks.

Both the spaghetti and the duck confit were sealed up, vacuum packed.  My husband – when his mouth isn’t too full of sousvide short ribs – derisively refers to this as “boil in bag.”   It’s true.  For home cooks, one virtue of the vacuum sealer is the ability to store leftovers for future reheating in the bag, by placing the bag in simmering water, which reheats the food without drying it out or, in the case of pasta, making it mushy.

IMG_1867

Spaghetti, duck confit, flageolet.

2 ounces spaghetti (dry weight), cooked and drained or located in freezer and reheated

3 tbsp flageolet purée, thinned with 2 tsp water

duck confit, reheated

butter-braised leeks, from Sweetbreads recipe

pea sprouts

juice of 1/2 lemon

In a sauteuse over medium heat, reheat the leeks until butter is melted and beginning to bubble.  Lower heat and add the flageolets.  Combine well and add spaghetti; toss with lemon juice.  Season with black pepper.

Plate in a shallow bowl and top with duck confit and pea sprouts.

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