Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Cheat This Week: Duck Confit!

If you’re going to cheat, it must be Duck Confit! Ahhhhh…Duck Confit!

I am now methodically studying the duck section of my Julia and Jacques book Cooking At Home because I LOVE DUCK CONFIT MORE THAN ALMOST ANYTHING.

Here is a recipe that is close to the Duck Confit Salad I had at Abigail’s American Bistro.

I know, it sounds really complicated but this salad has such mind-boggling flavors, it’s worth the extra time that it takes to make each step and construct it. Patience is the key!

It will make for a celebrated meal when you are trying to impress guests and believe me, you will. The wonderful thing is that duck confit can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time and stored in an airtight container as can the onion marmalade.

I don’t often splurge and order duck confit but when I saw it on the menu: duck confit/honey-onion marmalade/salad frisse/frites/apple smoked bacon/poached egg I was sucked in. You see, I’ve never had duck confit on a base of frites before and my love for French fries got the better of me remembering the duck fat fries I shared with my sister a few weeks back.

In Highland Park at 493 Roger Williams Avenue, Abigail’s American Bistro was named one of Chicago’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine and I give it my vote.

This place also makes the most amazing homemade flat bread. I challenge you not to eat the entire container because I did and then graciously asked for more.

Chef/Owner Michael Paulsen has really made his mark which is confirmed by the long wait lines. I showed up early for an 11:30 AM lunch opening and had no problem getting a prime table outside. The service was equally impressive.

Bon Appetit!

Onion Marmalade:

3 large onions, sliced ¼ inch thick, rings separated

1/8 cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp sea salt or canning salt

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cups granulated sugar

1/8 cup yellow mustard seeds

1 Tbsp honey

Toss onions with oil and salt in a large stock pot, canning kettle, or Dutch oven.

Over medium heat, sweat onions, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent.

Continue to cook until caramelized, taking care not to char them.

Add vinegar, honey, sugar, and mustard seed, stir. Continue to cook until sauce is a very thick syrup.

Meanwhile, wash and sterilize 3 half-pint jars and lids. Drain and keep warm.

Ladle marmalade into hot sterilized jars up to ¼ inch from the rims. Seal immediately.

Water bath in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove jars and cool completely.

Store in a cool pantry up to 6 months. Keep refrigerated once opened.

Duck Confit:

1 1/2 cups kosher salt

2 tablespoons coarse black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 sprig fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

4 duck leg quarters, rinsed and patted dry

5 cups duck fat

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

Combine salt, black pepper, chopped thyme, bay leaves, chopped rosemary, and 4 cloves of garlic in a medium bowl. Stir to mix well. Add the duck legs 1 at a time, firmly packing the salt mixture onto both sides. Place the duck legs on a rack set over a baking sheet, skin side-down, and top with the remaining salt mixture.

Refrigerate uncovered at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

Rinse the duck under cold running water to remove the salt crust and pat dry. Place in a medium roasting pan without overlapping and cover with the duck fat. Place the remaining 2 cloves of garlic, the sprig of rosemary, and sprig of thyme on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast until falling from the bone and the fat is completely rendered, 6 to 7 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.

Transfer the duck to an airtight container with a lid, cover with the fat, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 8 servings


3 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into matchstick slices 1/4-inch thick

Canola oil, fry frying


Place the potato slices in a bowl of water. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Pat dry with towels.

Heat enough oil to come 4 inches up the sides of a large deep saucepan to 310 degrees F. Add the potatoes in batches and cook until just crisp but still yellow, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. In batches again, add the fries until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the steaks.

Yield: 4 servings

Frisée Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

2 pound frisée (French curly endive)

6 ounces apple smoked bacon

½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar

4 large eggs

Tear frisée into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl. Cut bacon lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks (lardons)

In a heavy skillet cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and remove skillet from heat.

Have ready another skillet with 1 inch warm water. Half-fill a 4-quart saucepan with water and stir in white vinegar. Bring liquid to a bare simmer. Break egg into a teacup. Slide egg into simmering liquid and immediately push white around yolk with a slotted spoon, moving egg gently. (Egg will become oval, with yolk completely covered by white.) Immediately transfer egg to skillet of warm water. Repeat process for other 3 eggs.

To Construct The Salad:

On four salad plates, place frittes and cover with a thin layer of the honey-onion marmalade. Place the frisee on top with a half cup of duck confit and top with the drained poached egg. Season egg with salt and pepper and serve salad immediately.

Verdict: To die for food.