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.

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!)

If you liked any of my tools and stuff from the video, you can get it yourself with these links:

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Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Shanks

~ This is Day 151 ~

Since when did NYT started hiding/charging for their recipes? I saw this via the daily newsletter a few weeks back and when I wanted to go back to it, I couldn’t see it anymore. So I’m writing this recipe from memory and from my adaptation of doing this during my Zoom cooking demo last weekend.

I was testing out how a Zoom cooking class would work so I tried this out with four of my relatives on Zoom.

Ras el hanout is a spice mix found in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. There is no definitive composition of spices that makes up ras el hanout so if your store is out of ras el hanout, you can make it yourself:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Serves 4.

  • 4 TBS grapeseed oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, averaging 1 lb each, trimmed of excess fat and sinew
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp ras el hanout 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 3 quarts vegetable stock*, more if needed
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 150 g raisins or currants
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Sea salt, as needed

*I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process. Click on above link for my recipe to making your own vegetable stock.

You should do this the night before: generously marinate trimmed lamb shanks in kosher salt overnight. The salt will help flavor the meat and will keep the meat retain moisture.

Blanch lamb shanks in cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and remove from water. Blanching helps remove excess salt and blood. Rinse under cold water if needed, then pat dry on paper towels. 

Heat grapeseed oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, sear the lamb shanks until browned on each side (there are 4 sides!). Make sure the oil is very hot before searing, you need to hear the sizzle.

Transfer the lamb shanks to a dish and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add more oil if needed. Sweat the onion, garlic, ras el hanout, and saffron. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once aromatic, return the shanks to the pan with the cinnamon stick. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The meat of the shanks should be mostly covered, but not fully submerged in the stock. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked and tender, about 2-2½ hours, depending on the size of your shanks. If it looks like there isn’t enough liquid in the pot or if it’s drying out during the cooking process, add some more stock.

Preheat oven to 400°F and roast blanched almonds for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. When nuts are cool enough to handle, use a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground or chop by hand. Sift through to remove the finer pieces. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pick, wash, spin parsley leaves then chop and set aside.

Once the lamb shanks are fully cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the raisins and honey to the sauce and gently stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a syrup-like consistency. Taste and adjust for salt-content. There might be impurities coming up as you reduce, so skim those off.

When the sauce is ready, return the lamb shanks to the pan to warm them through and coat them with the sauce. Add in chopped parsley. Garnish with almonds and serve immediately with fluffy couscous.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

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)

Romescada

It’s snowing outside. It’s fucking freezing too. It’s unbearably chilly near my window. And all I want is this Romescada with Monkfish, Octopus, and Gambas.

Happy New Year & Happy Holidays!!!

Pear Tart with Maple Ice Cream

This was the fifth and last course to my Friendsgiving 2017 dinner.

Originally, I had planned a Cranberry & Pear Tart with Almond Cream – a dessert that I haven’t made before and that I was excited about! But two days before the big day, I was craving more traditional Thanksgiving flavors so I decided to make a pear tart because if you don’t satisfy your cravings, very bad things can happen next… e.g. a sweet-tooth rampage.

I would have been totally okay with just serving a wedge of Pear Tart but to make it nice, I also served it with some homemade Maple Ice Cream and Ground Candied Pecans.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2017

I’m a month late this year… I usually have my Friendsgiving menu ready in August – I like to plan early!

Goat’s Milk Ice Cream, Pumpernickel Soil, Lemon Foam, Microgreens
(1st course)

Dill-Brined Halibut with Farro, Sun-Dried Tomato, Pine Nuts, Micro Chervil
(2nd course)

Butternut Squash Velouté, Black Trumpets, Chanterelles, Toasted Pepitas & Chives
(3rd course)

Duck Carnitas, Pickled Onions, Watermelon Radish, Serrano, Cilantro, Lime, Tortillas
(4th course)

Warm Pear Tart, Candied Pecans, Maple Ice Cream
(5th course)

 

 

Recipe: Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Classic pesto sauce originated from Genoa, Italy. It consists of a blend of basil, garlic, olive oil, grated hard cheese, and pine nuts. Everyone has their own way of making pesto but it’s generally the same ratio of ingredients.

In the restaurant, I usually make double the following ratios (in the parentheses):

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (1)
  • Walnuts, toasted (½)
  • Pine nuts, toasted (½)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (¼)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 boquerones (Spanish white anchovies)
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1 lemon, microplaned
  • Salt

For the broccoli rabe, wash it well if dirty. Cut off the thick fibrous ends of the vegetable. In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch for 30 seconds and shock in iced water.

Once cool and drained from water, wring the broccoli rabe in a towel or rag to release as much water as possible. On a kitchen scale, measure the weight of the broccoli rabe. It’ll be easier to blend in the food processor if you chop the broccoli rabe first, just a few chops.

In the bowl of the food processor, place the broccoli rabe in first, then the walnuts and pine nuts. Turn the food processor on and add in the EVOO in a steady stream to emulsify the sauce. Add in the freshly grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, boquerones, and microplane the 2 cloves of garlic into the pesto. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt if necessary. Lastly, microplane lemon zest into the pesto and pulse a little more. Add more EVOO to desired consistency.

You can freeze the pesto if you aren’t going to use all of it within a few days because it will oxidize – taste the same but just look ugly.

Sample dishes:

Duck Breast with Celery Root & Red Wine Jus

I have been very happy with this dish that I created on June 6. It has been on my tasting menus for the past two months, not every week though.

This is Duck Breast with Celeriac Purée, Charred Cucumbers, Cashew Crumble, Chive Oil, and Red Wine Jus.