Springtime has sprung in Sonoma County and I’ve done too much Chicken and Beef lately.  Barbecue was certainly an option, but I’ve done a fair amount of that too so I really wanted to do something that was a game changer.  I wanted to challenge myself while sticking with the spirit of the season.  I have been on a bit of a Pinot Noir kick lately, so I was thinking of something that would pair up really well with that.  Something that some fresh ripe cherries would grab onto and say… “I just kicked your tongues ass!”  So, for whatever reason, I had a thought that some duck confit would fit the bill.  Thanks to a quick search on the interweb, I found myself checking out some UK style recipes for confit with some side dishes that I’d never tried (or really heard of).

So here we go, Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner -  #10

I had no idea, but apparently confit was a way for people to preserve their meat for long periods of time.  Who knew that storing cooked meat in its own fat was a preservation method?  I sure as hell didn’t.  After a cursory search of the local markets, and not finding “jarred confit” as my first recipe suggested, I found a recipe that just cooks the duck in its own fat (thank you NY Times.com).

So here’s the recipe for “Really Easy Duck Confit”  modified by me.

1 Whole Fresh Duck
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Herb Mixture (bay leaves, oregano, thyme, tarragon, crushed red pepper, dried onion)

The duck I bought was from a Chinese owned family market so it was still walking and smiling at me when I brought it home.  No, it wasn’t alive, but like that Christmas Story movie, still had it’s feet and head attached.  I chopped those off and removed the guts.

Season the duck with the above mentioned ingredients and place in the fridge for 24 Hours.  When you’re ready to start, preheat your oven to 325 F.  Quarter duck, split in half, top to bottom then split front and back halves.  Place into large skillet skin side down, and begin cooking over medium-high heat.

Now I had no idea, but Duck has some seriously fat content.  Your bird will start rendering fat almost immediately.  Continue cooking on the stove-top until approximately 1/4 inch of fat is in the skillet, about 20 min, then turn duck skin side up, remove from heat, cover with foil and place into oven.

Roast duck for 2 hours covered, after which you will remove cover  and return to oven for another 30-45 min until skin is golden brown.

Side Dish:

Celeriac Mash

I had never heard of this side dish before, I had only ever seen celery root in the store in the produce section and always wondered to myself… “self, who the hell buys this sh*t?”  Well yesterday that person was me.  Apparently it mashes up well just like mashed potatoes.  I found several recipes that call for half celery root half potato.

Recipe
1 Lb Celery Root
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 Oz Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Oz Butter
salt & pepper to taste

So here’s how I did it.  I washed the root to get most of the dirt off, chopped off most of the straggly roots with a knife and used a peeler to remove the exterior layer.

Once cleaned, chop into cubes.  Peel and chop up potatoes.  Boil both in salted water until tender.  Blend using hand blender  adding butter and cream.  Blend until smooth.

So here’s the deal.  I don’t know jack about celery root, but there is some chunky bits that I didn’t get rid of by peeling and the side had some seriously tough bits of stuff in it, which was unfortunate.  Perhaps I needed to peel deeper or something but, if you make this side, do some more research to find out just how to cook it.  The flavor was really tasty, it had a touch of celery character with the consistency of mashed potatoes (except for the tough bits of course).

The first recipe I found also had a recipe for a cherry glaze/sauce for the duck.  I modified this a bit too.

Recipe
4 oz Cherry Preserves
1 Shallot
3 Oz Port (I used 2007 Sobon Estate, Amador County Zinfandel Port, certified Organic)
1 Oz Red wine Vinegar
2 Oz Butter
10-12 Fresh Bing Cherries, halved and pitted

In a skillet or sauce pan melt butter, finely chop shallot and cook until tender.  Add preserves, port, vinegar, and cherries.  Cook over low heat and reduce to thicken sauce

I cooked some fresh green beans for the veggie side dish, sauteed in some olive oil with salt and pepper.

This dinner was like getting away with sin.  With the amount of fat in it I may pay for it later, but it was soooo worth it.  The cherry sauce on the crispy duck was heaven.  I paired this dinner with a 2007 De La Montanya Pinot Noir, Tina’s Vineyard.  The cherry notes and great acidity of this wine matched the richness of the duck to perfection.  My mouth is watering again just writing this, goddamn it was definitely Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner!

Okay, I hope you try this recipe.  The duck was just awesome, I’m not sure the wifey liked it as much as I did, and the Celeriac mash was a bit of a FAIL but it still tasted really good.

Until next week, Cheers!

Brian

References:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dining/201arex.html?ref=dining

http://www.discovertheorigin.co.uk/confit-of-duck-with-a-dark-cherry-glaze/

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