AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Duck, Part 1 DATE: 12/27/2008 10:51:00 AM ----- BODY:

Carol from French Laundry at Home cooked her way through the French Laundry Cookbook. Having cooked many recipes from that book, and derived so much inspiration, I was wholey impressed with Carol’s effort. When she finished French Laundry, she began to tackle Alinea. Without any thought, I bought Alinea’s cookbook as well. It arrived last week.

Thumbing through it, I realized it was more a coffee table tome than a book to derive inspiration, much less cook from. The organization of the book, the pictures and the wording or recipe names make it a difficult to figure what the recipes are all about. Carol, I bow to you in admiration. Nonetheless, I decided to try something from it.

First challenge: finding a recipe that didn’t require specialty ingredients or equipment. I opted for Venison Encased in Savory Granola. And then I changed everything… I made duck confit instead of the venison. Instead of making the granola, I served the fried components separately. And I pureed macomber turnips instead of celeriac. But I did make the dried-cherry port sauce. Other than that, it was exactly the same.

The puffed wild rice was a fun novelity, and offered a good textural contrast. Flavor-wise, I don't think it contributed to the dish. Perhaps if I had made the granola as Achatz recommended it would have benefited from the potato shreds and onion rings.

Duck Confit
Duck legs
1 tsp. each cumin, coriander, cinnamon
3/4 tsp. each allspice, dried thyme
¼ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. each cardamom ginger nutmeg
lots of garlic
half a lots of shallots
salt and pepper
duck fat

1. Combine spices.
2. Season duck generously with salt, pepper and spice mix on the flesh side.
3. Press in garlic and shallots.
4. Let sit for 24 hours.
5. Cook duck legs in 250 oven covered in duck fat for 2-3 hours, or until meat is very tender.
6. Store in fat.

Deep Frying
Onion Rings
1 onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 tbs. corn starch
Wild Rice
Potato Shreds, soaked in water to remove starch
Oil for deep frying

1. Heat oil to 450. Add wild rice. It should puff instantly. After 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on a papper towel and season with salt.
2. Turn oil down to 375. Toss onion slices in corn starch. Fry until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt
3. Fry potato shreds until lightly golden. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Macomber Turnips
2 turnips
¼ cup cream
Salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste

1. Peel and cubed turnips. Put in a pot of cold water. Season with salt.
2. Bring water to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until turnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
3. Puree turnips with cream. Season with salt pepper and lemon juice.

Port Sauce
1 small shallot diced
1 cup port wine
1 cup chicken or duck stock
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

In a small sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add shallots, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add wine and dried cherries, and let it reduce to about 1/4 cup. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil and reduce by ½. Turn heat the heat off, and whisk in butter, 2 tbs. at a time - for a total of 1/4 -1/2 # depending on your taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to David for taking pictures. He blogs about editing food photos here.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:12/27/2008 11:42:00 AM Well it sounds very interesting. Kudos to you for changing things up and making it work for you. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:12/27/2008 02:05:00 PM mmm. i love duck. the confit sounds delicious!! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger jesse DATE:12/28/2008 04:06:00 PM Duck confit! Yummmmm!!!! Kudos to you for taking the time and effort to make this dish... the results look amazing! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:12/30/2008 02:09:00 PM I tip my hat to ya. You really put some thought into that and the subs/changes sound like they worked well.

I haven't been a real fan of duck the two times I tried it, but have vowed to make it at home to see if it was just the prep other people used.

I actually put the Alinea book on my Amazon list without really giving it thought. It's likely to be beyond my scope for a few years. But then again, I like a challenge! ----- --------