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Bacon Cooking Uncategorized

Duck Breasteses & Brussel Sprout Hash





Someday soon I’m going to learn how to make duck breasts some other way, but this way is just so effortless, with perfect results, that a deviation from the norm just seems . . . inadvisable. I learned how to make them from the cookbook Bouchon, a book that I am an unrepentant disciple of, and highly recommend, even though I’m sure it doesn’t require any more endorsements. The duck breast technique actually requires a slight bit more prep and foresight than is displayed in this post, but it’s all really easy. Gabrielle just happened to demand meat for dinner, and so I hopped down to the butcher and picked these up on the fly. That’s why I didn’t get to finesse them like usual.







For a side, we made a brussel sprout hash with chantrelles, potatoes and bacon. This is a pretty standard, tried and true combination. And, you know how it is with brussels–you have to smother them in some kind of fat; it might as well be a combination of bacon and duck. We got loads of them in our CSA, and so we made a huge batch of this.



Below is the scene on the stovetop. This photo is from a little late in the game, but this is what it’s all about: the white bowl is to hold all the individual ingredients for the hash while the others cook—separately. You want to be able to fry, char, caramelize, and so on rapidly. Unless you want to do a bunch of separate pans, this is the way to go. To do this kind of cooking you need like killer high heat, and if you throw everything in at once, you’ll just end up with a big mushy mess. If you had a wok with one of those rapid fire furnace burners, this would all be superfluous, but whose got that at home? You need two frying pans for the duck breasts, or rather, one for each of them if you make more than two, and then a bowl between the pans for the duck fat run-off, which is actually the main reason we’re even messing around with this cut at all. Seriously, duck fat is immeasurably valuable! Something about it makes everything more amazing!







Brussel Sprout Hash:



• a gang of brussels, sliced in half
• a pile of chantrelles, roughly chopped
• a bevy of bacon; slab, cut into 1/4″ lardons and cooked off, fat reserved
• a few potatoes, 1/4″ dice
• 2 shallots, finely diced
• s&p, and maybe some cayenne and coriander if you’re so inclined.



Heat a large sauté pan up on high heat. Throw a tablespoon or so of the reserved bacon fat into the pan. Once it starts to smoke a little, throw in the shallot and potato together, season wit a little salt and pepper and other spices if you want, and let them brown up on the side they fall on before tossing them around in the pan for a minute or two, and then remove to the bowl set to the side. Repeat with the chantrelles, and then finally with the brussels. If your cooking the breasts at the same time, it’s always a good bet to throw in some duck fat instead of or in combination with the bacon fat. The brussels will take a bit longer than the other components, but once they’re browned nicely, add the other things back into the pan, stir it up, and let it ride on low until the duck is done.







Duck Breasts:



• duck breasts
• salt and pepper
• nutmeg
• thyme



Take each breast, and cut a cross hatch into the fat, being careful not to cut into flesh. This is easier when they are very cold, so try to do it as soon as you take them out of the fridge. Salt the fat side heavily with a kosher salt, or otherwise, and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top. Rub it into the grooves, flip the breast, and lightly salt, and pepper the flesh sides. Lay a whole sprig or two of thyme over the top, place on a plate and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Take the breasts out of the fridge at least a half hour before you want to cook them. Preheat your frying pans to medium low, and your oven to 375º. Place the breasts in the pans skin side down, and cook for approximately 15 minutes, holding the breast in place and pouring off the rendered fat from time to time. The fat will crisp up and will become irresistible. At this point you can transfer them all to one pan if they’ll fit, and cook them flesh side down for a minute or two before transferring them to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Duck can be cooked to the same degree as steak, and therefore rare is fine, but I’ve found medium to medium rare to be more appetizing. However, DO NOT OVERCOOK them. The same rules as steak do indeed apply in this regard. Represent what? My Duck:







Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

A Healthy Meal!? Quinoa Beets & Celery Root





I’m just going to be upfront about it and let ya’ll know that I basically jacked this idea from the Mango & Tomato site. However, our two quinoa salads are quite different apart from the beets, and the, uhh, quinoa. This also happens to be composed from just about everything that I had left in the fridge, the dregs of last weeks CSA share. I like cooking this way, though. Having virtually nothing to eat except a bunch of random vegetables, if you’re lucky, and maybe a grain is a great way to dig deep and test your ability to come up with something. In most of these circumstances, I whip up a bacon gravy, and give a nice slosh to a bunch of boiled carrots. You can imagine the scene: I’m nosing around the fridge hoping that this time, a ribeye or similar will reveal itself, and being left hopelessly out of luck, I start trying to think of who I’ll call for a delivery, but then I see the big jar of quinoa that’s been sitting in the cupboard for a good probably year or more (I like quinoa in theory, just not in practice–I mean I never make it, but I should more often.) With the itemized list of veggies I have tucked away in the veggie drawer floating through my mind, I turn to a Tastespotting quinoa search, and find the beet based recipe. This is indeed what Tastespotting is for!



Quinoa Beets & Celery Root



I just wing these things. This is enough for a family of 10.

• quinoa – 2 cups
• beets – 1 bunch, raw, shredded one way or another
• celery root – cubed
• greens from black radishes (or whatever) – cut into chiffonade
• craisins – a good amount (or another dried fruit)
• salt & pepper
• toasted almond slivers
• goat cheese

Cook the quinoa. It’s made by simmering 1 part grain to 2 parts water, the same as rice. I tried shredding the beets with a microplane, then a box grater, and then I finally just sliced them into rounds, and then into very thin batons. It was a pain in the ass, but less of one then actually grating them. I had small beets, though. It’s probably easier with bigger ones. Do it the way it works best for you. Cut the celery root into 1/2″ cubes, toss with salt and pepper, and olive oil. Heat a large skillet on high heat, and add a little canola. once the oil is smoking throw the cubes in the pan. Smooth the cubes into a single layer, and cook until they brown, then toss around in the pan until they’re toothsome, but not mushy. Take your leafy green, and cut it into a very thin chiffonade. Once the quinoa is down cooking, take a bowl or a pot large enough to hold everything, and mix it all together, throwing in the craisins, (a good variation or addition would be crisp, tart apple) and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer servings to separate bowls, and top with toasted almonds and crumbled goat cheese. This is good hot or cold, which makes it a great go-to lunch for the next day, and the main reason that I made so much.