Friday, February 11, 2011

All Things Ducky And Delicious

OK, so I know I promised in the last post I was going to profile the Duck Pizza I made, but first I think I should at least start with the basics of roasting the duck, rendering the fat, and making the broth, as they are the basis for a lot of the other recipes to follow.

Firstly, get yourself a duck. I find mine at the local Asian market, which has ALL SORTS of awesome spices, cheap produce, and cuts of meat and seafood that you won't really find anywhere else. For example, where else can you find beef hearts and pig's tongue? I've never had either of those cuts, and I'm not sure that I have the stomach (har har) to try them. But anyhoo, back to Donald and Daffy. ;)

When you get your duck home and thawed (either overnight in the fridge or soaking in a cold-water bath in the sink), unwrap him and pull out the giblets and neck. Now, the neck can be given to your favorite canine friend as a treat to keep him out of the kitchen while you prepare the bird, or you can save it and the giblets for stock. Next, remove any pinfeathers that may be on the carcass. Usually tweezers work better than fingers in this case.

Once the bird has been devolved of any further feathers, rub him inside and out with spices (I like to use Chinese Allspice, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule). Stuff the cavity with quartered oranges and rosemary, then baste all over with hoisin sauce. Pop him into a 350-degree oven, and try not to drool for the 3-4 hours it takes for the bird to roast.

One thing I highly recommend, by the way, is to use a roasting rack. This bird will give off a LOT of fat, and we don't want the bottom to be uh, braised while the top is roasted. ;)

Once the bird is done, pull him out and LET HIM REST for a good 15-20 minutes on a cutting board. This will allow the meat to finish cooking, and pull some of the juices back into the meat. You may or may not want to let him rest depends on how hungry you are, and how willing you are to risk singed fingertips. ;)

Unfortunately, I don't have any action shots of me tearing apart the carcass, and honestly, I really don't have a "method". I just sort of go at it and slice till I have all the meat off the bones. I'll generally start by breaking off the wings and legs, slicing the breast, and then sort of working from there. One of the nice things about being the chef is that you can sample the absolutely GLORIOUSLY crispy skin and succulent meat. Seriously, I have NO idea why people stick to dry, bland turkey for holiday is where it's at!!

Now what to do with all the wonderful fat and bones? The fat's easy; just strain it through a coffee filter or paper towel, and toss it in the fridge. It'll solidify, and keep for months. It's especially good when used on potatoes, or to make kale chips (more on those later).

For the broth, I like to just toss all the bones, neck, and giblets into a big stock pot with some water, herbs and spices, (rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper usually), along with some veggies (onion, carrots, fennel, celery, whatever), and then let it simmer for about 3-4 hours. Once the stock is done, I can freeze it and use it as a substitute for chicken stock, or as a base for curry, cassoulet, etc.

I'd say for a $20 bird, I got my money's worth. ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ceviche and Duck!

OK, so I'd have to say the ceviche was a rousing success. It was actually stupideasy to make...I chopped up half of a tomato, some red onion, cilantro, half a jalapeno minus the seeds, and the sea bass, and combined it with both some fresh-squeezed and bottled lime juice.

After letting everything get happy for about two hours (the minimum recommended time), I definitely noticed a difference in the visual texture of the fish; it was more flaky and definitely less opaque. Now, generally I'm not a fan of cooked fish, but I don't really consider "soaking in citric acid" to be cooking. Yes, there's a change in texture and flavor, but there's also no overwhelming fish smell, nor taste.

Apologies for the lack of pictures...I don't have a proper camera, and my cellphone doesn't really do the food justice. :(

Next up, I roast a duck and make stock, render fat, and make Duck Pizza!