Duck Carnitas

This was the fourth course to my Friendsgiving 2017 dinner.

For those of you new to the site, and to me, I dislike turkey, which is why I always serve duck instead during the holiday. Besides, duck tastes better than turkey. I will even cook chicken before I cook a bleeping turkey!

I usually split the breast and legs for separate courses but this year, I decided to confit both parts and serve them up family-style with tortillas and other accoutrements. I was inspired from Cosme‘s Duck Carnitas – I’ve only read about it, I haven’t had a chance to go in and try it. Hopefully, this was equally amazing!

Along with the Duck Carnitas, I served it with Pickled Onions, freshly shaved Watermelon Radish, Serrano Peppers (not in photo), Micro Celery, Lime (not in photo), and warm Tortillas.

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Recipe: Sweet Pea Soup

I was meaning to post this recipe but life got caught in the way. Anyway, whenever spring comes, I love the harvest of fresh English peas. Having said that, I also dislike eating peas in their pea form, which is why I love making sweet pea soup.

  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 lbs fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 55 g crème fraîche

Melt unsalted butter, then add onion and celery, and sweat until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and potato, and raise the heat until it reaches a boil.

Cook the mixture until potatoes are done, add in the peas and bring to a boil. Cook until peas are tender, about 2 minutes.

Have a colander ready to strain mixture, making sure to reserve the liquid. Add solids to VitaMix and some liquid to adjust for consistency as its blending. Finish with crème fraîche and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Once fully blended and smooth, chill over an ice bath to preserve its green color.

Sample dishes:

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: Anise Jus

I get asked this question a lot, is “star anise” pronounced as “ah-niece” or “ah-nus”? According to the dictionary, the correct pronunciation is the one that sounds like anus… which is why most people prefer to pronounce it as “ah-niece”.

To make anise jus, it is almost identical to Recipe: Red Wine Jus except, remove the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves and add a handful of star anise.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • Handful star anise
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

Method is exactly the same; add star anise with black peppercorns.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Red Wine Jus

Red Wine Jus is a meat sauce that is made with reduced red wine and reduced meat stock. I prefer using duck bones instead of the usual veal bones because duck bones are more flavorful and not overpowering. And also, I’m allergic to cow.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

For the duck carcasses, add in the neck and wings too if you don’t plan on using them for other purposes. Try to trim off as much fat as possible. Roast duck carcasses with some olive oil and salt in an oven at 450°F until nice and brown. In a large stock pot, add browned bones and fill water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half.

Remove bones and continue to reduce in a clean pot until gelatinous. On average, 6 carcasses will give you 1.5-2 quarts of gelatinous reduced stock.

Peel the onions and carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cut celery stalks into the same length pieces. In a clean stock pot, heat up some neutral oil and sweat the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir, once soft, add garlic, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves until aromatic. Add in red wine vinegar and continue stirring.

Cook until almost dry and add in the two bottles of red wine. I prefer using deeper, drier red wines with hints of berries. Reduce until almost syrupy.

Strain red wine syrup into a clean pot, discard solids, and add in 1 cup of gelatinous reduced meat stock.

The jus should have some body to it and taste slightly acidic from the red wine. If you want more body to the jus, continue to reduce meat stock, or add some butter. Usually, you don’t need any salt but always taste to double-check.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Romescada

Romescada is a rustic seafood stew from Catalan, Spain. Romescada and Romesco sauce are very similar, in ingredients, but differ in method. Romesco sauce is typically pounded together (or whirled in a food processor or blended in a blender), and olive oil is added until the mixture resembles a reddish mayonnaise. However, Romescada is made with adding the individual ingredients one by one, creating a more in depth flavor profile.

What to add to Romescada is endless. Traditionally, the stew has monkfish or any other firm-fleshed white fish, such as sea bass, and any type of shellfish, bivalve, or cephalopod.

I make Romescada with the unreduced lobster stock from Sauce Américaine. That’s super flavorful. Also, I use sourdough for my bread slices.

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup peeled hazelnuts
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 2 medium Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 4 dried Ñora chiles or 2 dried Ancho chiles
  • 2 fresh Fresno peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 12 canned Piquillo peppers, chopped, more if needed
  • 2 tsp Pimentón Dulce (sweet paprika)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts lobster stock/Sauce Américaine, more if needed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast nuts and discard any skins. Then boil them for 15 minutes so that they are easy to blend.

In a large stockpot, add olive oil to depth of ¼-inch, fry 4 bread slices slowly on both sides until crisp and golden. Remove bread, drain on paper towel, cut into ½-inch cubes, and set aside. Add chopped onions to pot, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until onion is softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat while you do the next step.

Put dried Ñora/Ancho chilis in a small pot with water, simmer for 15 minutes, drain, and discard water. Remove stems and seeds.

Put roasted nuts, fried bread, garlic, chilis, Fresno, piquillo, and paprika in a food processor. Blend until it comes to a thick paste, adding more piquillo peppers if necessary to make it catch.

Add mixture from food processor to softened onions and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine, simmer until mixture has dried out a bit. Add 2 quarts of lobster broth, simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If too thick, add more stock.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Sauce Américaine

As promised, here is my recipe for this amazing sauce.

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first, reduce that down until almost syrupy, then mount in the butter, add in a touch of lemon, and et voila!

This recipe is for restaurant quantity, feel free to cut in half or by four to make for home use. Full recipe makes around two reduced quarts of stock.

  • 5 lbs lobster bodies, around 3-4 bodies per pound
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Handful garlic cloves
  • Handful parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Salt

Fresh lobster bodies are best but if you get them frozen, thaw them before use. Smashing frozen bodies is more difficult but it can still be done – it’s just tiring. Trust me. I prefer them fresh so the pounding is instantaneous.

In a rondeau (a wide, shallow pan, similar to a stock pot or a Dutch oven but not nearly as deep, the pan has straight sides), turn heat to high and heat up cooking oil. Add the lobster bodies when oil is about to smoke. Toss and turn and using a hammer or blunt instrument, crush/smash the heads until the coral comes out. Continuing tossing and turning so that it doesn’t burn. Add brandy and flambé aka light on fire. Be careful not to burn your eyebrows – because that does happen, never to me but I’ve seen the damage!

Once lobster bodies are red, add a little bit more cooking oil and add in the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems). Sauté the veggies until soft, add a little salt to breakdown cell walls. When onions are translucent and soft, add in the dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and cook off wine until almost dry.

Add in tomato paste and toss paste to spread all around everything in the pot. Cook tomato paste for 2 minutes. Next, add enough water to fill the top of lobster bodies. Cover with lid or with foil and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low, and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, water levels should have reduced by half. Using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, take solids out and discard. Then using a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, stain liquid into a clean new sauce/stock pot. On high heat, reduce liquid until very dark and syrupy, about four-fifths.

Store lobster stock in pint containers and place in fridge. Best used within two weeks.

Serving ratio for two people:

When serving, heat up ¼ cup of stock, do not continue reducing, add in 2 TBS melted butter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and serve with accompanying sea creatures.

Sample dishes: