Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Rotisserie Duck not on the Rotisserie

As soon as I read the recipe for Ssam Bar's rotisserie duck in the latest issue of Lucky Peach magazine, I knew I had to make it.  It is Christmas Eve and we are celebrating my Christmas baby's birthday.  This duck was not Maggie's first choice for her birthday dinner, but we made an agreement and she will have two birthday dinners.  The first one, being her first choice, was had on Christmas Eve Eve:  steak with entrecote sauce and pomme frites.  This duck, or as it is coined in Lucky Peach, a Chinese Turkey, is really my choice.  Gosh I hope it doesn't go south.

The recipe gives you the option of cooking the duck either over a charcoal grill on a rotisserie, or roasting it in the oven.  The weather being what it is, and the larger issue that we don't actually have a rotisserie attachment for our charcoal grill, leaves me with the oven roasting option.   

For the duck:
2 whole ducks, about 4 lbs each
2 cups maltose
1/2 cup soy sauce
kosher salt

For the duck sausage:
1 lb duck leg meat (3-4 duck legs, meaning legs and thighs)
1/2 cup duck fat, cold
3/4 cup pork fatback, diced, cold
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sake, cold
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon nonfat milk powder
1 tablespoon pink salt (aka curing salt, goto Amazon.com)

For the complete detailed recipe, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of the Fall 2012 issue of Lucky Peach.  Here's an abbreviated version.
Butcher the ducks by removing the wing tips, removing the legs, and cutting off the backbone where it meets the rib cage.  The result is called a the crown.
De-bone the legs, cut the meat into chunks and place in the freezer while you get the rest of the sausage ingredients.
Make the sausage by combining all of the ingredients in a large food processor and puree until smooth.  

Blanche the ducks in a large stockpot of boiling salted water.  Dip the ducks into the boiling water for 10 seconds, cool in a large bath of ice water, repeat three times.  Place the ducks onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

To stuff the duck with the sausage, use your fingers to separate the skin from the flesh.  Start at the neck opening and be careful not to tear the skin... as I did on one of the ducks.  Bummer!
Use a pastry bag to pipe as much of the sausage to fill each pocket without bursting it.  
To glaze the ducks, heat the maltose and soy sauce over low heat until it is runny.  Brush each of the ducks all over with the maltose.  Let rest 15 minutes, repeat.

Put the ducks in the fridge for 2-5 days.  This will dry out the skin and help in making a crispy duck.

To oven roast, heat the oven to 475f.  Put ducks on a roasting rack and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Arrange the ducks with enough space between the two so plenty of heat can circulate around them and bake for 50 minutes.  The actual recipe calls for roasting the ducks separately.  I'm sure there must be good reason for this?  But I don't have the time or patience for this, so together they go into the oven.

Let the ducks rest for 10 minutes before carving.  Remove the breasts and thinly slice crosswise.  Serve with butter lettuce, hoisin sauce, and rice.
Again in the craziness of getting dinner served, I failed to photograph the ducks once they came out of the oven, before carving.  They were quite beautiful and crispy.

Duck Confit

A second birthday request from Maggie was duck risotto.  With all of the other duck I was making and all the fat I was trimming from the ducks, I decided to make duck confit for the risotto.  Duck number three was portioned out into 2 legs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts, bone in/on.  The fat was added to that from the other ducks.  The rest was frozen with the other bones for making stock at a later date.  On the recipe front, my goal is the easier the better.  I mean, I'm up to my chin in ducks at this point, so I'm looking for a little less fuss.  Here's one that has few ingredients and does not take hours and hours of cooking.

3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 duck breasts
2 duck legs with thighs
2 duck wings, trimmed
About 4 cups duck fat

For the duck fat, you can purchase it or make it yourself if you are having a duck extravaganza like I am.  I took all of the fat I trimmed from the 3 ducks for Christmas Eve / Maggie's birthday dinner, and rendered it.  To render duck fat, simply place all of the fat in a heavy pot and cook over medium heat until it starts to sizzle.  Turn the heat down to low, cover and continue to cook until the fat/skin is crispy; then you know all of the fat has been rendered.  
In a dish or pan large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer, sprinkle 1 tbsp of the salt on the bottom.  Top with half of the garlic, shallot and thyme.  Lay the duck pieces on top and sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over the duck.  Then follow with the ground black pepper and the remaining garlic, shallot and thyme.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 day.
When ready to cook, remove the duck from the salt mixture and brush off any excess salt, and the garlic, shallots and thyme.  Place the duck in a single layer and a deep pan.  Dover the duck with the duck fat.  Place in a 240f oven and cook for 3-4 hours, or until duck will come easily off the bone.
Let cool and store duck in the fat until ready to use.  For me, this was no time at all.  I shredded the meat from the breasts to use for the risotto.  Then I shrink wrapped the rest to save for a future date.

Frozen Maple Nougat with Strawberries and Raspberries

We had this dessert this past summer up at Dent Island and Maggie has been asking for it ever since.  Well, it is Maggie's birthday and so I had to come through with something.  After some internet research, I concocted this recipe.  Hope it's a good one.

1 cup pure maple syrup, organic, medium amber
5 egg whites
1 3/4 cups 36% classic heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons maple sugar

Bring the maple syrup to a boil over low heat and cook for 4 minutes.
Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually drizzle in the hot maple syrup and continue whipping the egg whites for 10 minutes to cool the mixture.
Add the maple sugar to the cream and whip until stiff peaks form.
Fold the cream into the egg white mixture.
Put the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip, or use a large plastic zip lock bag like I did.  My pastry bag sprouted a hole the other day while piping some sausage, so the plastic bag route is a great alternative.
Place it in the freezer for at least 8 hours or up to several days.
Take the nougat out of the freezer and place into the refrigerator about 45min to 1 hour ahead of time so that it softens enough to pipe out.  In the frenzy of things, I failed to do this, resulting in a glob of nougat instead of a beautifully presented nougat.  Despite this failed effort, the nougat still tasted great.  Serve with fresh raspberries and strawberries.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Green Apple, Prosciutto and Gruyere Tart

This is one of those winning combinations of ingredients that makes it difficult to fail.  Make an appetizer or a meal of it... you'll be happy either way.

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, approximately 11 x 17"
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green apple, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 to 4 thin slices prosciutto
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
turbinado sugar
chopped fresh rosemary and thyme to garnish, about 2 tsp

Heat oven to 400f.
Lay the puff pastry out onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Let thaw a bit and then score the puff pastry around the perimeter, about 1/2" from the edge.
Brush the ed with egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar, kosher salt and pepper. 
Bake the puff pastry for 12-14 minutes, until light golden brown.
Meanwhile caramelize the onions by simply slowly sautéing them in olive oil until they are golden brown and tender.  Then add the apple and cook for another minute.  Let cool.
To assemble, spread the onion and apple mixture over the puff pastry.  You may not need all of it, use as much as you like.
Take the prosciutto slices and roughly tear them apart and spread them over top of the onions.
Sprinkle the gruyere cheese over top.
Turn the oven up to 425f.
Bake again for another 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with rosemary and thyme and cut to serve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Balsamic, Port and Honey Glaze

Yay it's Friday!  How about a little grilled lamb for dinner?  I asked Stella how I should prepare the lamb.  She said, "made it edible".  Now that the bar has been set so high, how could I fail?  

3 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup port
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the marinade ingredients.
Make sure the leg of lamb is evenly butterflied for even marinating and grilling.
Place the lamb in the marinade for several hours or overnight.
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Grill on a gas grill over medium high heat until desired temperature.  Chris grilled it at medium heat for about 15 minutes for side for medium to medium rare.  Watch for flareups as there is fat on the outside of the lamb and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  
Baste with the marinade as you go, and with the leftover marinade, I heated it up and drizzled it over the sliced lamb.  Happy Friday!