Another Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, Jenn and I spending a good deal of it offline. I am currently catching up on all the tweets and twitpics. It is amazing how many tweeps I follow who cooked dishes, a good number of desserts, from scratch. Many prepared new takes on Thanskgiving turkey. Everyone tried new recipes, asked each other for advice, and produced some mouthwatering results.
I listed what I am thankful for this year in a comment to Rebecca’s (@bitofmomsense) heartwarming blog post about giving thanks. Here are two additions. I am thankful for the food community I am part of and the readers who read this blog.
That said, here is what we cooked up.
Our feast celebrated Jenn’s sister’s birthday. This year, Thanksgiving Sunday fell on October 10, 2010, 10/10/10 (“42” in binary, but we’re not going there…).
The birthday gal, the “perfect” 10, requested duck in lieu of turkey, so we found ourselves with $60 worth of duck from Saslove’s.
Duck is rather versatile. With a little effort, nothing goes to waste.
Since, we were contributing dishes to Jenn’s mom’s menu, we opted not to roast the duck whole. Instead, we jointed the bird, making confit with the legs, seared duck breasts, and Asian duck stock with the carcass (supplemented with turkey wings).
By the way, you know you’re done rendering duck fat when the skin turns into scratchings (aka: duck rinds). Salted, they are a very guilty cook’s treat.
The confit turned out a tad salty, so we will have to adjust exposure and quantity of salt cure…
After curing, the legs were braised for 3 hours in rendered duck fat. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so could not experiment with a brined preparation.
The confit’ed legs were reheated to serve and went well with rice. Diners treated them like Chinese cured duck, something Jenn and I want to attempt in the future.
Seared Duck Breasts
Our friend and fellow Ottawa food blogger, Jodi (@simplyfresh) is presently cooking her way through a number of cookbooks, demonstrating techniques and encouraging discussion. I’m making my way through James Peterson’s Sauces.
We followed Peterson’s method for searing duck breast and made an accompanying cranberry sauce, seasoned with gastrique.
Our lessons learned:
- Making gastrique is fun: bring 1/2 cup granulated sugar to colour, add 1/2 cup vinegar, stand back, bring to a simmer to cook out raw vinegar flavour
- Do not waste good fond. Make an integral sauce.
- When searing duck breast in a cast iron pan or skillet, 2-4 minutes skin side down will give you the required crisped skin. Finishing it in a preheated oven will give you finer control on internal doneness. Use a probe thermometer and remember the breast will continue to cook a little when resting.
Suffice it to say, we slightly over cooked the duck breasts.
Having duck fat reserves from a prior confit session (that time goose legs), we par boiled some mini-potatoes and roasted them in duck fat
The potatoes were seasoned with kosher salt.
Stock-wise, we followed an Asian method. We brought the poultry in the stock pot up to a simmer and dumped the boiling liquid. We washed the bones and returned them to the stock pot with fresh water. To the pot, we added whole black pepper corns, a large uncured onion, and some old leek. This, we let gently simmer for 5 hours.
It became a clear consomme I thought Jenn’s mom would use as a soup base. Instead, she heated it through and served the consomme as is.
Everything went over a storm! Another Thanksgiving, survived!
Update: Here’s the tutorial I followed for jointing the duck