Tuesday, December 28, 2010

wild duck stir fry

A friend of mine who is an avid duck hunter asked me if I wanted one of his kills. Heck yeah! I told him I wasn't sure how I was gonna cook it... I wouldn't mind attempting a whole roasted duck again, but wasn't sure I'd have the time. Because I was so unsure of what I wanted, he just went ahead and brought me a whole duck... and by whole duck, I mean, head, feathers, et al. SQUICK!!

I remained calm as he explained to me my options. He showed me where to cut and how to get the breasts out, and also explained plucking. *deep breath* After some twitter discussion about how it plucking wouldn't be worth the trouble, as whole ducks are really lean this time of year. So I just breasted it out. It was really easy... just a few simple cuts and they came right out without much damage. I had to avoid looking at the ducks face, but other than that...

After a bit of research, I thought it best to stick with a stir fry. I am very comfortable cooking Asian-style dishes, and I had most of the ingredients. Wild duck is a very dark and flavorful meat, so I treated it like beef, similar to this Nam Tok Beef recipe. This turned out to be a good way to cook duck. It was not overly gamy, but plenty rich and flavorful.

Wild Duck Breast Stir Fry

2 Wild duck breasts
3 Tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for cooking
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
shredded raw cabbage
sliced green onions
cooked white rice

Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic, white pepper and red pepper flakes in a container with the duck breasts. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Once marinated, slice duck breasts thinly, reserving the marinade. Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions and cook until they start to soften. Add a couple splashes of soy sauce to the onions, and cook another few minutes. Push the onions around the edge of the skillet, and add the sliced duck and marinade tot he middle. Cook the duck, turning often, tossing with the onions until meat is cooked through. Add sesame seeds and cook another minute or so. Serve on top of white rice and raw cabbage.

Monday, December 20, 2010

tater tot pizza

I've done tater tot tacos. It's only natural that I attempt to make those little golden nuggets of trashy deliciousness work on top of a pizza. I mean I've made potato pizza before. Tots are potatoes. Right? Right.

Oh. So. Right. This turned out better than I expected! Seriously. Tots rule.

Tater Tot Pizza

-3 Slices of thick cut bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-3-4 Tablespoons flour
-2 Cups milk
-1 clove garlic, grated
-a couple handfuls of frozen tater tots
-1 pizza crust
-about 1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
-about 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-Handful of sliced green onion tops

1. Preheat the oven to cook the tots according to directions.

2. In a skillet, cook the bacon until just crisp. Set aside on a paper towel, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. There should be about 3 Tablespoons. Add the flour... about an equal amount to the bacon grease (you're making a basic bechemel, with bacon grease instead of butter), stir over medium heat until it starts to turn a slightly darker brown, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put the tots in the oven... let them bake for about 10 minutes.

4. Heat milk and garlic in the microwave for about a minute (watch it to make sure it doesn't boil over!). Add the milk and garlic to the bacon grease roux, and sir constantly, taking care to scrape the sides and bottom, until it thickens into a sauce, about 7 minutes. A silicone whisk works best for this. Take off heat.

5. Spread the sauce on your pizza crust. Top with tater tots, bacon, corn, cheese and green onions. Bake according to pizza crust directions.

6. Carbo-load!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

bunny with noodles

I had a rabbit from my pals at Yellowtree Farms. I kept referring to it as a bunny, which, considering I was always referring to it as food, made me sound sinister. Bunnies are cute. And they are delicious. Sorry, bunnies!!

I told a chef friend of mine I had a bunny, and that I had never cooked rabbit. His girlfriend recommended this recipe from Cooking Light heartily. I love that it's filled with bunnies' favorite vegetables... turnips and carrots. Man, why am I taking so much delight in the slight wrongness of cooking and eating something so adorable? Also, as I was prepping, I kept telling my cat, Noodles, that the "noodles" part of the dish meant him. It didn't phase him. I do it every time I cook noodles. He finds the joke tiresome. I don't think cats can roll their eyes, but I can see him trying.

The dish was really tasty. Comforting, like chicken and dumplings, with some neat flavors from tarragon, cloves and the spicy, bitter turnips. A perfect winter dish. I veered from some of the refined steps in the recipe, as noted below. Happy bunny eating!

Rabbit à la Moutard
From Cooking Light

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup coarsely chopped peeled turnip ( I used closer to 2 cups...)
1 cup chopped peeled carrot
1 (3-pound) rabbit, cut into 8 pieces (mine was probably only 2 lbs.)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 thyme sprigs (I subbed 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 whole cloves (I subbed 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leek
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth or stock
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives ( I skipped these completely)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
12 ounces fettuccine or egg noodles

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Stir in turnip and carrot; sauté 12 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables from pan; set aside.

3. Sprinkle both sides of rabbit evenly with salt and pepper. Add 2 1/4 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of rabbit; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove rabbit from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 1/4 teaspoons oil and rabbit. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

4. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add leek, celery, shallots, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine, bay leaf, cloves, thyme; bring to a boil. Stir in broth and stone-ground mustard; return rabbit to pan. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until rabbit is done.

5. Remove rabbit from bones; shred with 2 forks. Discard bones. Strain cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard solids (I put about half of the leeks back into the broth...I hate wasting leeks!). Return meat and cooking liquid to pan. Stir in reserved turnip mixture, Dijon mustard, and cream; bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid is slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in chives, parsley, and tarragon.

6. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place about 1 cup hot cooked noodles in each of 6 shallow bowls, and divide rabbit mixture evenly among servings.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

thai potstickers

I had a bowl of chopped cabbage and carrots that I had meant to use for a stir-fry, but ran out of room in the pan, so I stuck 'em in the fridge for future use. Fast forward to tonight... driving home from work I started obsessing about that bowl of carrots and cabbage. They are not expensice ingredients by any means, but I hate to waste food, and I spent time chopping them! While getting my hair cut, it randomly occured to me to make potstickers.

Using my iPhone while wandering the grocery store, I found several recipes that gave me a good idea of how to prepare and cook potstickers, and some recipe ideas, and this is what I ended up with. These are good for a weeknight because they cook fast. Assembly takes a while, but not forever (especially when you are a sloppy folder like myself). And this used the whole package of wonton wrappers, so I have a bag full of frozen potstickers for future dinners! They had great flavor, too. Mmmmm....ginger.

Thai Chicken Potstickers

-2 cups sliced red cabbage
-5 carrots, sliced
-thumb of ginger, grated
-3 cloves garlic, grated
-2 cups cooked chicken
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-2 teaspoons sesame oil
-1 Tablespoon fish sauce
-1 teaspoon white pepper
-a couple pinches of red pepper flakes
-green onion tops from 1 bunch, sliced
-handful of cilantro

-12 oz. package of refrigerated wonton wrappers

-oil for cooking
-chicken stock for cooking (about 1/2 cup per batch of 10-12 potstickers)

Combine first 12 ingredients in a food processor, adding more soy sauce as needed to make everything come together. Place about 1 Tablespoon of the filling in each wonton wrapper. Wet 2 edges of the wonton wrapper with water, and fold over corner to corner, pressing the edges to seal. Fold the side corners over. Repeat until filling and/or wonton wrappers are used up. Heat about 1 Tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Place potstickers in pan in a single layer without overcrowding. Let cook about 2 minutes on one side, then flip and let cook another minute or two until they are golden-brown. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, cover, and let cook about 5 minutes until the liquid is gone, carefully remove from pan (some might be stuck! they're potstickers!), and serve, or keep warm in a 200º oven while you cook other batches. Serve with peanut sauce and Sriracha for dipping.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

fennel bacon bread pudding

I am a big big fan of savory bread pudding, especially on cold winter nights. The toasty, crunchy bites of the bread on the top and corners, and the custardy delicious middle. Ultimate comfort food. With a long baking time, bread pudding is not exactly feasible on a weeknight. But I figured out a way to make it work. You can prepare all the ingredients one night, and do the assembly and baking the next night!

This bread pudding has my favorite winter vegetable, fennel, and every one's favorite non-vegetable, bacon! I also added some black garlic, which I had for the first time a week ago. Black garlic is really sweet, and almost dried fruit-like. I thought to add it because raisins worked so well in another savory bread pudding I made. And yes, I have also posted a fennel bread pudding recipe on here in the past. I told you, these are some of my favorite things, the fennels and the bread puddings.

Fennel Bacon Bread Pudding

5 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large sweet onion, quartered and sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs, quartered and sliced
small handful fennel fronds, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper
7-8 cloves black garlic, chopped
1 lb. loaf of french bread, cubed and lightly toasted
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
6 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper

Cook the bacon until slightly crisp. Set aside on a paper towel. Cook the onions in about 3 Tablespoons of the bacon grease until opaque and starting to brown. Add in the fennel and garlic, season with the white pepper, nutmeg and salt & pepper, cook until soft and opaque and starting to brown. Add in black garlic and cook another minute or so. Add bacon to vegetables.

Gently combine the vegetable/bacon mixture with the bread cubes.

Butter a 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle half of the Gruyere on the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the bread cube-vegetable mixture in the dish, distributing evenly. Beat the eggs, cream, milk, thyme, salt & pepper together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the liquid over the bread cubes. Smoosh the bread cubes down a bit to make sure they are all soaked with some of the liquid. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Bake at 400ºF for 1.5 hours, adding the rest of the cheese to the top about an hour in. Serve warm.