Duck Leg Confit with Celeriac & Hazelnuts

~ This is Day 262 ~

This was the second course of five to my #RontiniFriendsgiving 2020 menu. I usually serve one leg per person but I thought for this year, that might be a little too much food so I split the leg between drumstick and thigh. I love making duck leg confit mainly for the aroma. It fills my apartment with this heavenly scent. This is Duck Leg Confit sitting on a bed of silky Celeriac Purée and Brown Buttered Hazelnuts with dots of Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Sherry Vinegar Reduction.

Grapefruit Sorbet with Kabocha & Pepitas

~ This is Day 262 ~

This was the last course of five to my #RontiniFriendsgiving 2020 menu. This is probably my easiest dessert that I’ve ever made for my Friendsgivings. I made this menu thinking that a gluten-free friend was going to participate but she canceled a week before and I didn’t feel like changing the dessert. I was excited to see how this would turn out anyway.

I incorporated some booze in the grapefruit mixture so that churning it would make it more scoopable. The recipe is here, just for the sorbet. You could substitute the Contratto liqueur for Aperol or Campari, if that’s your thing but I personally dislike both Aperol and Campari.

This is Grapefruit Sorbet with Brown Buttered Roasted Kabocha Purée and Candied Pepitas.

With the heavier first four courses, this simple frozen dessert actually turned out perfect because it acted like a palate cleanser. At least I thought it was fitting at the end!

Plans for Friendsgiving 2020

~ This is Day 258 ~

Thanksgiving Thursday has officially passed for 2020 but my Friendsgiving has not yet! This year, unfortunately, I couldn’t have it on Thursday because of scheduling issues. Not having it on Thanksgiving Thursday seems so weird to me and it’s happening tomorrow, the Sunday of Thanksgiving. I only just realized that I haven’t posted the menu yet. There was a sixth course but my seafood delivery was out of fresh sea urchin from Maine so I axed that dish.

Diver Scallop
Pickled Golden Beets • Apple Sorrel Gel
Micro Red Vein Sorrel
(1st course)

Duck Leg Confit
Celeriac • Hazelnuts
Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

Quail
Chanterelles • Shiitake • Market Carrots
Pearl Onions • Barley Risotto
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Pommes Dauphinoise • Caramelized Endive
Red Wine Jus
(4th course)

Grapefruit Sorbet
Kabocha • Contratto • Candied Pepitas
(5th course)

As much as I can’t wait for tomorrow to come, this “Thanksgiving” is dragging and I just want it over with already. Never doing this a Sunday again… keeping it to Thursday next year and all future years.

I know we’re all still in a pandemic and that a lot of people have been alone this holiday weekend but my friends coming are all the same friends that I’ve been seeing since the lockdown and we’ve all been careful, getting tested regularly, and also practicing safe social guidelines.

Recipe: Brown Buttered Hazelnuts

~ This is Day 257 ~

You can apply this cooking method to any type of nut, I assume, but I’ve only done this to hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans. Haven’t tried any other kind of nut but I think it should work.

In the restaurant kitchen, this counts as a garnish and garnishes are usually “snacked” on by cooks and chefs. They’re snacked on for a reason because these brown buttered nuts by themselves are indeed an addicting snack! You can either add these awesome toasted nutty nuts to your dish or eat them alone.

(It’s too late now but is it “brown buttered nuts” or “browned butter nuts”. I’m starting to second guess myself… but whatever, you know what I mean!)

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5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci

This is probably my most ambitious homemade pasta project for #RontiniFriendsgiving #RontiniParties because I had to marinate the duck legs, cook the duck legs, hand-shred the duck legs, mince/grind the duck legs through a meat grinder, make the farce, pipe the farce into the freshly made pasta dough, fold/shape the dough…

I decided to make the pasta a weekend before the actual date because there was no way that I could make pasta dough from scratch and do all of that in one day along with the other day-of Thanksgiving prep!

So here you have Cappellacci (meaning little hats) filled with 5 Spice Duck Leg with Celery in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce with Fennel, Fines Herbes, Cured Egg Yolk, and Fennel Fronds.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2019

I’m very early this year for my Friendsgiving menu plans! Inspiration started and I decided to just go with it. I’ve been usually doing dinner for four for the past couple of years because that means less glassware to clean but I want to do six people total this year… Here is what I have so far; I expect menu changes…

Egg on Egg on Egg
Sea Urchin • Soft Scramble • Trout Roe
Potato Foam • Pumpernickel Soil
(1st course)

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms
Chanterelles • King Trumpet • Cremini Purée
Rosemary • Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci
Celery • Brown Butter • Cured Egg Yolk • Fennel
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Homemade Hoisin • Pickled Cucumber • Chive Oil
(4th course)

Pear Tart
Ginger Snap • Ginger Ice Cream
(5th course)

Scallop Crudo with Brown Butter

Never in my life would I have thought to put raw scallops and warm brown butter together!!!

And let me tell you, it’s like the best pairing ever!!! So amazingly good that I ordered 7 of the same dish, one after another; I just couldn’t get enough!! After seven orders of the same dish in a mid-level pricey restaurant, the bill added up and I had to stop myself cold turkey (haha)…

But damn, the nuttiness of the brown butter with the sweetness of the sliced scallops… GENIUS! I was blown away and I cook for a living so this really IMPRESSED me and shook me to my core because it was so simple and my tastebuds exploded!!!! I’m kind of honored that I work under the executive chef of Charlie Bird/Pasquale Jones/Legacy Records! The combination of raw scallops and brown butter was so incredibly sensational that I couldn’t think of anything better to start my 2018 Friendsgiving dinner with!!

Thank you so much Ryan Hardy!

Do you really need me to write down a “recipe” for this? It’s basically sushi-grade raw scallops and freakin’ brown butter! Don’t know how to make brown butter? Put butter in a pot, wait until it gets dark and take it off the heat and strain it. Don’t let the milk solids burn though!!!

Plans for Friendsgiving 2018

I’m super late this year for my Friendsgiving menu. I hope this doesn’t become my new habit because the anxiety doesn’t help.

But here is what I have planned so far. Most of the courses are inspirations or almost near exact replicas from NYC restaurants (i.e. the first three courses). Please forgive me for any originality, it’s been a tiring and stressful year.

Scallop Crudo
Lemon Zest • Brown Butter • Chives
(1st course)

Roasted Kabocha Squash
Stracciatella • Pedro Ximénez • Pepitas
(2nd course)

Duck Leg Confit
Red Mole • Blue Corn Tacos
(3rd course)

Maple Lacquered Duck Breast
Apple Purée • Candied Pecans
(4th course)

Fudge Brownies
Chocolate Sculptures • Vanilla Ice Cream
(5th course)