Crispy Duck

I love crispy duck and it has made its way into my kitchen on many occasions; already cooked and procured from one of those places that have ducks, chickens and pork belly hanging in a steamy back-alley window. So delicious, I tell ya.

My first real memory of eating crispy duck was at a very fancy Chinese restaurant in the heart of Kensington, London in the late 90s. They also served a rather expensive shark fin soup and other delicacies that I had only read about in books. At the time, I was convinced it was the most expensive restaurant EVER.
I was a guest of a wealthy business man and his wife, who thankfully,
were adverse to shark fin but loved crispy duck.
And garlic noodles.
Having been down this road before, they had ordered the duck when making the dinner reservation several days prior. A great fuss had been made. Admittedly, it was impressive and worth the king’s ransom it demanded.

My crispy duck does not hold a candle to that of the professionals, but it was still delicious. It’s a fun project, but I must admit, I am just as happy with something from the shops.

crispy duck

*this is a 2 day affair…so plan accordingly
1 whole duck–cleaned and dried
finely grated zest from 1 orange
2 tsp chinese 5 spice
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 recipe duck broth
1 recipe glazing sauce
hoisin sauce–to serve
finely sliced green onions–to serve
cucumber cut into strips–to serve
chinese pancakes–to serve
to spatchcock the duck: remove the neck and any other parts from the cavity of the duck.  wash and dry the bird.  remove the backbone and snap the breast bone and flatten the duck.

keep the neck & back in a ziploc in the freezer for use at another time. –it is great for making stock

mix the orange zest, five spice, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. rub over the entire duck.  place the duck in the refrigerator and let sit 8 hours or overnight.  
next day or day of duck preparation: remove the duck from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Steam duck for 25 minutes using duck broth in place of water. I use a bamboo steamer over a wok, but you can use whatever steaming mechanism you have.

Let the duck sit in the steamer for 5 minutes after removing it from the heat. Lift it from the steamer and place on a roasting a roasting pan.  Let it dry fully—I place a small fan in front of it for about 2 hours. Once dry, brush liberally with the glazing sauce–fully saturating the duck.  Again, let sit at least an dry the skin again.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450. Place the duck in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and cook for about another 40 minutes.  Do not continue to baste, as it will reduce the crispiness of the skin.

Duck Broth

1/2 carrot–chopped
1/2 celery–chopped
1″ knob fresh ginger–roughly chopped
1 shallot–chopped
1 rasher bacon–chopped
olive oil
duck neck (if your duck doesn’t come with it, use the back)
1/2 oz calvados
3 cups chicken stock

Heat a stock pot over medium heat.  Add about 1 TBS of olive oil and bacon.  Cook until the bacon begins to throw off some fat, then toss in the carrot, celery, ginger, and shallot.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then toss in the duck neck.  Cook for 5-6 minutes more then pour in the calvados and let it absorb.  Add the chicken broth and let simmer for about 2 hours.  Strain all solids, tossing everything except the duck neck.  Return the duck neck to the broth and cool until needed. If refrigerating overnight, skim off the solid fat and discard before using.

Glazing Sauce

juice of 1 orange
3 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
heat all ingredients together just until the honey melts enough to incorporate into the rest of the liquid

Cookie Dough Candy Cups

I might be one of very few whom actually prefer baked cookies to raw.
The cause possibly may have been the constant threat my mother herald:
“raw cookie dough will give you worms”
I don’t recall that it ever happened to anyone but perhaps it isn’t discussed in polite society.
Still, I find it astounding in a medical sense. I really should have paid more attention in high school biology class.
With that introduction; how could you not be hungry for a little bit of cookie dough?
 (wink, wink)
This recipe is sans eggs so no need to worry. I filled little chocolate cups but you can also roll the dough and dip in chocolate or just eat them out of hand .

cookie dough

1/2 cup unsalted butter–softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour or ground nut flour-toasted
evaporated milk (as needed)
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
toasted and chopped (optional)
chocolate ganache for topping or tempered chocolate for dipping.

With a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until creamy.  Add the salt, and vanilla and beat again.  Stir in the flour until just incorporated.  Add evaporated milk a bit at a time until you reach the consistency you want…it won’t take much.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if desired).  If putting into cups, generously scoop dough into cups and then dip in ganache & top with chocolate chips or colored candy. If making into truffles, scoop out desired portions and put on lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate until hardened. Remove from fridge, roll into balls and dip in tempered chocolate. Top with chocolate chips or colored candies as desired.

40 Clove Ham

I find it curious that some of the biggest insults we toss about, malign an animal that brings such great pleasure..
Things like:
don’t be a pig
he’s swine of the worst kind
this place looks like a pig pen

are part of our common vernacular
Rather than being nasty about the plucky porcine, we should be saying things like:
your skin has the milky creaminess of caul fat
Honestly, who doesn’t think Crepine is a beautiful name for a girl?

Wandering the grocery store looking for inspiration for our New Year’s Eve buffet, I found a ham, on sale, no less, and couldn’t resist the swine song of a well-spiced lightly sweet and mouth-watering salinity of the ham of my dreams

New Year, New Reflection 2011

As I bask in the glory of this year a new and begin to reflect
with the muddled mind of late evening revelry and early morning rise

This day brings an opportunity to reset my course, confirm those gathered goods, and decide the next step of this fabulous journey called life

With you, I share three truths which will satellite my year

-I will not judge in disappointment, as I am confident I too fall short of expectations others place on me
-Rather than toss the years of the past I will carry them forward both as fond memories and retrospective caution
and finally,
– I will eat more fruit starting with this lemon meringue cake