Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lame Duck

Sometimes dinner parties just don't work out and our guests fall apart. The evening I present here dissolved into something most disappointing, frustrating and ultimately just plain exhausting. I'd hoped to write with absolute vigor about my Duck Pot Pie but I can't find it in me. The food was great, really great in fact, and took me several days to prepare. I made the stock a week ahead of time and froze it. I made my own duck confit, in a brilliant shortcut. So much for that. Here are the salted legs:

Set your simple table and take these recipes as you will, inspired by Good Dog Bar and Restaurant in Philadelphia where Baby and I spent our Easter weekend. Do find pleasure in creating a truly special dinner, at your own home. As always, wish for the best and choose your guests wisely.

French and Australian Cheeses on a rustic cutting board with crackers and a bed of parsley
Baby Arugula Salad with Blood Orange & Bacon Vinaigrette
Duck Pot Pie with a side of Corn Bread (the linked recipe is similar to what I did but I would hardly find all the butter or eggs to be necessary; incorporate at your own discretion). Black truffle honey is shrewd indeed for dipping
Rich Chocolates for dessert with pink Peeps, almond cookies, and Brandy, Armagnac, as you go

Dressing for your salad course: use the chart of my favorite Michael Lomonaco's Shallot and Champagne Vinaigrette with a few alterations. As classic duck a l'orange is so delicious I thought that using blood orange olive oil would set the whole duck deal up perfectly, which it did, with ribbons of bacon flavor too to stand up to the approaching game bird. Use 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tb Dijon mustard, 1 tb sugar, 4 peeled shallots, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 ground black pepper--throw into a blender and then slowly incorporate 1/2 cup blood orange olive oil and 1/4 cup softened bacon grease. Creamy, divine, and far more interesting than impeding company!

Click Duck Pot Pie for the recipe. The link from Saveur will help you make your own duck confit that the recipe requires but I suggest cutting to the chase as I did (otherwise buy it already done from D'Artagnan or a local butcher): pull the duck fat off the legs, render it in a cast iron skillet to release the most fat and when it's at room temperature, set the fat aside in the fridge. Pour coarse salt on all sides of the stripped duck legs, cover and leave to consider in refrigeration for at least eight hours. Wipe off the salt and slather with your rendered duck fat (I didn't "submerge" as the recipe calls for); put in a 250-degree oven for about 90 minutes, turning over once, halfway through. When you make your filling, keep the duck meat on the bone for flavor while it fully cooks in the stuff and then remove the legs. Once simmered down to a manageable temperature, use a deft fork or your own hands to pull off the meat and then proceed to stuff the innards of your extraordinary pie with abandon.

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