It's far too late for Paper Chef #11, as life sometimes gets in the way of trying to keep up on all desires and obligations, but I was intrigued by the ingredients this month: Duck, nut butter, ginger and pears. I was also both encouraged and inspired by my friend Ilva, at Lucullian Delights (who posts the most gorgeous pictures of her homeland in Tuscany every single day - so go check her out and dream a little), after seeing her yummy entry of duck meatballs. When I confessed to her that I had never tried cooking with duck before, she told me to give it a try - so I did. I came up with this: A warm 'salad' of soy-drizzled duck breasts on warm frisee with chanterelles, candied ginger, pears and walnuts.
Now, there are things I would change about this dish - part of it goes together quite nicely (frissee, soy, ginger, chanterelles and duck) and part of it I would leave out next time (walnuts - I'd use almonds instead, and perhaps pears - substituting orange segments or plums or something, oh, and I added bacon, which I would also leave out), but I would make something similar to it again. Plus, I think it's interesting to see both sides of people's creative adventures in the kitchen. I'm an avid recipe follower...in fact, I don't even know how to not follow a recipe. I freeze up, freak out, run frantically around the kitchen, screaming. Okay, not quite that bad. Sure, sometimes I'll throw a pinch of salt, rather than measure it, or if I'm out of something, substitute what I do have or leave it out entirely, but I pretty much follow the 'rules.' I'm working on this...making my own stir fry sauces, etc. But I have yet to make up my very own whole recipe.
Loving Boyfriend often scoffs at my 'rule-following nature.' While I take the crosswalk, he'll walk right out in front of traffic (JAYWALKER!!). I'll follow the signs that say 'DO NOT put THAT here' or 'DON'T SIT HERE,' while he pretty much ignores all signs and does whatever he feels like...especially any signs that tell him what to do. He's pretty much that way in the kitchen too, which I envy in many ways, as most of the time his adventures comes out tasting quite good...course, there was that one stir fry with vinegar and plums...which both of us agreed we would never eat anything resembling it again. :)
So, here's my first adventure: First, I roasted the duck breasts (425F for 20 minutes, skin side up, with the fat on, and several slits cut into the flesh that I drizzled soy sauce over). This is what Nigella Lawson said to do. But the duck breast sort of fell into the roasting rack and didn't cook thoroughly. So I removed the fat and pan seared them in oil on both sides for about 2-3 minutes each side (I have no idea if this is how to cook duck - but the roasting was taking too long and smelled funny!). Apparently, many people prefer to eat duck slightly rare or at least pink in the center to keep it moist and tender, so I followed suit and I have to say, I think I prefer it this way as well. I cut a single breast into thin slices (one breast made this salad and the other I think will be cold duck sandwhiches with mayo - we do this with leftover chicken and it's always good, so I'm crossing my fingers. Besides, Nigella says it's good!).
I laid the duck atop frisee that I tossed with olive oil and soy sauce before wilting in a saucepan (don't know if you're supposed to really do this either, but I think it was amenable to the cooking). Then, I topped this with pan-fried chanterelles, bacon (don't do this), finely chopped candied ginger, and pear slices (I'd leave this out too). I would also maybe add thinly sliced scallions next time...hmmm... We drizzled the whole thing with truffle oil, because I wasn't sure what to top it with, and it was pretty tasty. I might drizzle it with something else next time, but I'm not sure what...any ideas would be appreciated, or any suggestions to make this all-around better or different. All in all, it was a fun night - I made a complete disaster of the kitchen, and it took much longer than I though it would trying to do everything at once, but the end result was at least tasty (once I picked out the bacon and ate the pears separately...). Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new, adventurous me, where someday I can toss aside those recipes and use them as guidelines, not rules...but I don't think you'll find me walking out in traffic any time soon!
written by Michelle at 9:09 AM