A few weeks ago, I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the Boston Wine Expo and Maple Leaf Farms. As part of the Twitter chat, participants were gifted with duck (YAY!) to prepare and pair with wine. Luckily for me, I was able to enlist the help of one of Austin's most accomplished chefs, Sonya Cote, to give me some advice on duck prep. If you've been in Austin for even just a little while, you would have heard of Sonya Cote, Chef and owner of Hillside Farmacy, Eden East, and the Homegrown Revival.
Becker Cabernet Sauvignon to go with our duck.
I'm so thankful that she took the time to show me some tips and tricks in the kitchen. During our initial conversation, I thought that Sonya was going to make a dish or two out of the duck. I was very delighted and amazed that she was able to whip up four dishes in what was literally the blink of an eye. I don't have exact recipes, but here are some of the methods. Feel free to play with these ideas to make your own duck creations. For Austinites interested in getting local duck, Sebastian from Countryside Farms at the Downtown Austin Farmer's Market is a great option.
The first dish was a warm duck bacon salad. This could not be any easier. Cook the bacon in a pan and put it on top of greens and garnished with shaved rainbow carrots for a beautiful presentation. Chef Sonya dressed the salad with an emulsion of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, salt, lemon juice, dijon and pepper. Top with a poached duck egg for an extra omph.
There goes the bechamel on the poutine. Pretty much anything on top of fries is good.
Two dishes that she came up with using the roasted duck includes the duck poutine and a duck stuffed purple potato using the roasted duck. Once defrosted, just use your hands to remove the meat from the bones. Use the bones to make a broth for the next dish. I won't go into a discussion on how to make poutine or baked potatoes as those are pretty straightforward with many variations on how to do it. However, I'll show you some drool worthy photos.
Is this not the most beautiful duck stuffed baked potato with fried parsnips you have ever seen?
Moving onto the duck breast, Chef Sonya's preferred method of cooking is to slow render the fat. You can leave the skin intact or you can score it crosshatch. Crosshatching the skin will help it render faster, but you ought to get the same results either way. Fry the duck breasts skin side down on medium heat until the fat starts to melt out. As the fat comes out, remove the fat from the pan (and into a jar or storage container for future use), and keep on rendering. The idea is to get the fat out so that the skin does not become chewy; it should start to crisp up as the fat comes out. For each duck breast, it takes about six minutes to render the fat and crisp the skin. Once the skin is done, you'd flip the breast over and cooking the other side until the duck is to your preferred level of doneness. Or you can pop it in the oven to finish cooking. And as if we need to remind you, don't forget to deglaze the pan for some
Rending the fat of the duck breast will help you achieve a crispy skin.
Chef Sonya served the sliced duck breasts with a popcorn grits and garnished with broccolini florets. To sauce it up, she made a sauce of duck stock, green onion, orange peel, and a little red wine. Duck breast is a versatile and delicious ingredient. I hope some of Chef Sonya's dishes gives you ideas for your next duck venture!
Duck breasts, popcorn grits, broccolini and dijon mustard. Looks amazing doesn't it?