Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Style de canard cuisine fran├žaise

Yes, I am a food snob and I'm ok with with it. Plus I like to throw a few French words around since I am semi fluent (or used to be anyway)

So we have a friend who hunts. A lot. And we are the lucky recipients of a lot of yummy game birds and venison. I get to do a lot of experimenting and many game birds fall into the classic French cooking methods. Like goose and duck. In this case Mallard duck to be exact.

I thawed the duck not quite sure what was in the bag, except it was marked Mallard. Incredibly, it was two WHOLE Mallards. In a bittersweet moment I wished I had decided to go with roasting but.....with only me at home and a game plan, I just went for it.

I will always brag about my knife skills. Just face it- I got this. And I have the perfect knife for breaking down bone. So I went at it, removing legs and thighs, boning the breasts and setting them aside, slashing the skin and getting every bit of extra fat I could pull off each bird.

Duck confit is not a quick to fix dish. And it's not a one day dish. Next step is mixing up the rub- almost like a dry brine really. Kosher salt, lemon and orange zest, herbs and juniper- the smell of juniper just makes me smile. Into a ziploc bag to dry marinade and cure overnight before tomorrow night's long, spa oven spa. And nothing makes a better duck spa than a genuine Le Creuset dutch oven !!

Duck Confit

about 16 oz duck, mallard preferably, or goose
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tb kosher salt
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
2 springs thyme, leaves stripped
1tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 piece star anise, crushed
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
6 tb duck fat (I had to sub half olive oil and half butter)

Rinse and clean the duck, check over for pin feathers, remove if necessary. If ducks are whole, remove legs and thighs, cut breasts from bone, leaving skin and fat on all. Slash skin all over duck, pat dry with paper towel and set aside. I cut the breasts into chunks similar in size to leg and thigh pieces.

In a small bowl combine garlic, zest, salt and all herbs and spices. Rub all over the duck pieces and place in ziploc bag, close and allow to marinate overnight, 24 hours.

The next day rinse off ALL cure rub, pat dry and place in clean deep roasting pan.

Add the duck fat (or olive oil in a pinch- NOT bacon fat). Roast, covered,  in 300 degree oven  2 to 3 hours.

At this point you can uncover, crisp the skin and serve, or cover and store in refrigerator for future use.

My duck, checked after a couple hours, has shrunken quite a bit but the meat is soooo succulent and I am amazed at the amount of duck fat rendered from such small birds.

So what are we going to do with this amazing duck ? I have some tacos. Duck with asian long beans and rice. Just pick it off the bone and eat it......and the best part- that amazing duck fat to save for other cooking. Heaven awaits !!