Shredded Duck Leg Confit in Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut with Crackling & Parsley Chips

This was the third course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

Last year’s roasted duck legs didn’t turn out so well and I didn’t want to braise them again so I took the classic, ambitious French-route this year, which is why I had to cut a course out because it was too overwhelming for my tiny studio kitchen. It also made sense because why have two soups?

Serves 6.

DSCN2549

[100% organic]

For the Confit

  • 6 legs from 3 ducks, Frenched
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 garlic head, minced
  • 12 bay leaves, crushed
  • 12 thyme sprigs, picked and crushed
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 quarts rendered duck fat

Sprinkle a shallow layer of salt and sugar into a shallow glass/plastic container. Scatter with half the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns over the salt/sugar and lay duck legs on top in a single layer. Scatter over remaining herbs, spices, salt, and sugar. Wrap/cover and refrigerate duck for 1-2 days.

After 24-28 hours, pre-heat oven to 225°F. Remove duck from cure mixture and rinse salt off. Pat dry duck and place in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. In a saucepan, gently warm fat until just melted. Cover duck completely with melted fat.

Cook in oven very slowly – you should only see a small bubble every now and then – until the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone. Approximately 2-4 hours. If the duck seems to be cooking too quickly, or the fat begins to simmer, reduce temperature to 200°F.

When the duck is ready, remove from oven and cool in the fat. Once cool, peel skin off and reserve for cracklings. Using your fingers, shred duck meat and store them in the fat. Duck should be completely submerged.

This entire process can be done in advance because the duck submerged in its own fat can store for several weeks.

For the Duck Skin Cracklings

Under a broiler, crisp up reserved duck leg skin from confit process. Season with salt. For extra crispiness, place in a dehydrator.

For the Cream of Mushroom & Chestnut

  • Butter, as needed
  • 6 leeks, white & pale green parts only, sliced
  • 3 quarts packed mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb roasted chestnuts, cut
  • Chicken stock, as needed
  • ¼ lb AP flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan, sauté mushrooms to get color and aroma. In a saucepan, sweat leeks with butter and add the sautéed mushrooms and roasted chestnuts. Add enough chicken stock to cover. Season and bring to a boil. Turn heat down for simmering. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, make a blond roux using ¼ lb butter and ¼ lb AP flour. Scoop away little by little of roux and put it in the saucepan until desired consistency and thickness. Add the heavy cream and adjust for seasoning.

For the Finish

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • Salt

Pick parsley leaves and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 1”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Fry until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt.

For extra crispiness, place in dehydrator or 110°F oven.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop soup in bowl, place a large ball of shredded duck confit in the center, garnish with skin cracklings and fried parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Saffron Shrimp Risotto with Chinese Broccoli & Wild Mushrooms

I have been making risottos like crazy at work. For my Sunday food party, I wanted to make a different risotto. I asked my friends what they would like to have in the risotto and they said “mushrooms”. Then I wanted shrimp and Chinese broccoli stems in the rice as well so that’s how I created this dish. And why not add some saffron, to make this risotto extra luxurious?

I planned on using maitake mushrooms but the store was out so I bought oyster and king oyster mushrooms. I also had some shiitake at home so it was a nice blend.

My friends and I are all big eaters so technically this recipe serves 8 but we were 4 people.

In case if you were wondering, this is what I cooked for our food party:

Serves 4.

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[100% organic, shrimp from Australia]

For the Risotto

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 qts dashi stock

Heat up dashi in a saucepan and keep hot.

In a pan, melt the butter on a low heat. Add in the diced onion and sweat until soft. Stir in the rice and make sure the butter fully coats each grain of rice and cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the wine and saffron, and cook until completely absorbed.

Add 1 cup of the hot broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding 1 cup broth at a time, stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed between each addition. Be careful not to let the bottom of the pan dry out. Continue to stir often, and repeat until the rice is short of al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

For the Garnishes

  • 2 lbs tiger shrimp
  • 2 cups oyster mushrooms
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 bunch Chinese broccoli
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Shrimp: Save 8 shrimp whole, peeled to the tail then peel, clean, and devein remaining shrimp. Save shells for later use. Chop up remaining shrimp and set both whole and chopped shrimp aside. Fold in chopped shrimp into risotto and add some more broth to further cooking the shrimp and rice.

Mushrooms: Clean mushrooms and cut into bite-sized pieces. Sauté mushrooms until golden and set aside. Fold into risotto.

Chinese broccoli: cut leaves off and use stems only. Save leaves for later use. Using a mandolin or knife, slice stems into 2 mm rounds. Fold into risotto.

For the Finish

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 reserved shrimp
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Whip cream until stiff and fold into risotto. Season risotto and taste to adjust seasoning.

Sear shrimp in a pan and drain on paper towels.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop risotto into bowls and top with 2 interlocking shrimp. Serve immediately.

Brown Butter Gnocchi, Baby Taro, Tomatoes, Shimeji Mushrooms & Watercress with Shiitake Consommé

I always like doing an ambitious dish because it’s fun and I get to spend the whole day cooking. Yesterday was really ambitious because I made three things; the cauliflower-kale soup, used the leftover dill for pork dumplings, and this. Even though this dish took forever, the final result was sooooo delicious. I had to refrain myself from drinking the shiitake mushroom by itself because this was a very labor-intensive process!

I had a lot of vegetable scraps from the cauliflower-kale soup and the trimmings of the raft ingredients so I made my own vegetable stock for this consommé. Just FYI, the organic carrots that I use are as thick as your fingers.

[100% organic]

For the Gnocchi

  • 1 large Idaho potato
  • ¼ cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Olive oil

Cook the potato with its skin on in cold water with the bay leaf and thyme until done. Drain, and peel the skin. If you have a food mill, process them. If not, like me, mash finely with a fork and allow to cool.

Sift the flour over the potatoes and add in the salt, cheese, egg, and using your hands, work the ingredients into a soft dough ball. Do not overwork!

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut off pieces of the dough and using your hands, roll into cylinder shapes. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Press the gnocchi lightly with the tines of a fork or roll them off a gnocchi board. Cook the gnocchi in the salted water and gnocchi are done once they float to the top of the water. Shock in ice water, drain, and transfer to a large tray. Drizzle olive oil over gnocchi to prevent sticking.

For the Consommé

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, julienned
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Salt

In a stockpot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.

Place all ingredients – shallots, celery, carrots, shiitake, tomato paste, egg whites, bay leaf, thyme – in a bowl and whisk gently. Add the warm vegetable stock into the bowl and whisk well. Pour the mixture back into the stockpot and bring to a simmer, while stirring often.

A raft will foam and by this point, stop stirring or else you’ll break the raft. At a low simmer, cook for 1 hour. Do not stir or boil. Poke a hole in the center with a ladle and use the ladle to pour the liquid over the raft once in awhile. This will moisten the raft and will further the clarification process.

When the hour is up, turn off heat, and let it to rest for 10 minutes. Then carefully use a ladle to pass it through a chinois lined with cheesecloth. Transfer to a clean pot and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and keep warm.

For the Other Garnitures & Finish

  • Tomatoes
  • Baby taro
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • Watercress
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Tomatoes: cut “x” on the tomatoes, season lightly with salt and olive oil, and bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for 20 minutes. You still want the tomatoes to be firm and remove the skin. Set aside and keep warm.

Baby Taro: boil a pot of salted water. Add in the taro once water is boiling and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cut into obliques. Set aside and keep warm.

Shimeji Mushrooms: boil in salted water, set aside and keep warm.

Watercress: wash and pick through, saving the nice sprigs for garnish.

Gnocchi: melt butter and wait for butter to turn a light brown color. Sauté the gnocchi immediately and season lightly with salt. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a shallow bowl, arrange tomatoes, taro, gnocchi, and mushrooms in the center. Ladle consommé into bowl and top with watercress garnish. Serve immediately.

Mini Shrimp Dumplings with Shiitake & Water Chestnut

Screw my liquid diet. Ever since I bought my new dinnerware, I’ve been dying to use it. And it’s probably a good thing that I’m experimenting on canapés/amuse-bouche because we’ll be doing it for L’Ecole in the next and final level.

[Everything organic, except water chestnuts, shrimp from Thailand]

  • ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms, finely diced
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, finely diced (around 6-7)
  • ½ cup flowering chives, finely chopped
  • ½ lb shrimp, finely diced
  • 1 packet gyoza wrappers
  • Chives, finely diced for garnish
  • 1 tsp simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar, melted)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper
  • Oil for deep-frying

Combine shiitake, water chestnuts, chives, and shrimp in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and gently with white pepper, mix well. If you’re unsure about the taste, make a test dumpling.

Using a 2-inch ring mold, cut mini-wrappers from the store-bought wrappers. Save the scraps, thinly slice them and deep-fry them until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and using your fingers, crumble them into smaller pieces.

Make as many dumplings as you can from the filling.

TO ASSEMBLE

Boil a pot of cold water, when it comes to a rolling boil, put in the dumplings – do not overcrowd the pot. When the dumplings float to the surface and the water is boiling again, cook for 6-8 minutes.

In another pot, make simple syrup if you don’t have any. Melt the simple syrup into the soy sauce and turn off heat.

Plating: in Chinese spoons, place dumplings flat/upright and add 1 tsp of sweet soy sauce into the spoons. Sprinkle with fried wrapper pieces and chives.

Cornish Hen with Soy-Vodka Glaze & Sticky Rice Stuffing

I gave myself too much this time. It’s kind of elaborate and I just knew that it was going to take a long time but I also knew that the ending result would be super delicious and awesome.

[100% organic]

For the Sticky Rice Stuffing

  • 2 Chinese preserved sweet sausages, sliced
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in water
  • 1 TBS ginger, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 TBS dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Soak the sticky rice and the dry shiitake in water ahead of time. Reserve ½ cup of the mushroom soaking liquid to cook the rice.

In a large pan, add canola oil and stir-fry the Chinese sausage slices and shiitake mushroom slices. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and keep stirring until fragrant. Add the drained sticky rice to the mixture and add the dark soy sauce and regular soy sauce. Add the chicken stock and the ½ cup mushroom liquid and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Let it cool until ready to use.

For the Baby Chicken with Soy-Vodka Glaze

  • 2 Cornish/game hens
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup ginger, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Canola oil, for brushing

Combine the salt and ¼ cup sugar in a large container with 4 cups of cold water to dissolve. Add the chickens and marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Season the bird’s cavity with salt and pepper, stuff with the cooled sticky rice stuffing and truss it or at least tie up the legs.

Combine the ½ cup ginger with the soy sauce, vodka, the remaining 1 cup of sugar, and the garlic in a saucepan and bring to boil. Put the chickens on their back, baste them with the soy-vodka mixture, and put pan in the oven.

Roast for 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the soy glaze, until dark brown. A thermometer inserted into its thigh should read 155ºF. Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices.

*Adapted from Zen Can Cook.

Sticky Rice with Chinese Preserved Sausage & BBQ Pork in Lotus Leaf

Traditionally in dim sum, this is made with chicken, shiitake mushroom, salted duck yolk, and Chinese preserved sausage. This is one of my favorite things to order during dim sum. Who knew it was so easy to make? There’s a lot of waiting around but it’s not too bad.

You can buy all of these ingredients (except for the BBQ pork) and the bamboo steaming equipment at all large Asian supermarkets. Austinites, you can find everything (except for the BBQ pork) at MT Supermarket. You can buy BBQ pork, $6.99/lb, at First Chinese BBQ or make it yourself.

[100% organic except for sausage and BBQ pork]

  • 1½ cups glutinous rice
  • 2 dried lotus leaves
  • 4 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 Chinese preserved sweet sausage, sliced 1/8 inch
  • ½ cup BBQ pork, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing/Chinese rice wine
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • Canola oil spray
  • Water

Carefully cut the center stem off and the outer torn rim off each leaf. Then cut in half and soak in hot water for an hour. Wash the rice three times or until water is almost clear. Soak the rice in your rice cooker for 2 hours before cooking it. Set your rice cooker to normal or if you have a sticky rice setting, set it to that. Season your rice too.

Turn your stove on high heat, get a wok and heat up the oil. Quickly add the sausage, stir for 30 seconds, and add the scallions and mushrooms. Stir for 10 seconds, add the soy sauce, rice wine, and brown sugar, and a little bit of water. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the BBQ pork. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and remove from heat.

Carefully wring out the water from the leaves and open them on a flat surface. Spray oil in the center. Layer a flat rectangle of rice onto the leaf. Place ¼-⅓ cup of filling over the rice, then add another layer of rice over the filling. Wrap the rice into a packet and place facing down on the bamboo steamer. Steam for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Lo Mai Gai (糯米鸡)

Smoked Salmon Parcels with Israeli Couscous

Since I had already decided to make the Stuffed Peppers with Israeli Couscous, I thought it would be a good idea and a good pairing for another dish to have the same kind of couscous. I found this recipe and I loved it immediately because I’m always trying to improve my presentation and I like making cute looking dishes. ^_^ (OK, that’s the closest fob thing that I’ll ever do).

Whole Foods was out of chives, basil, and other herbs. I just drizzled regular extra virgin olive oil over this. At least it still tasted great; they all liked it. I liked it too!

[100% organic, Norwegian salmon]

*OK, the presentation is kind of messy. The smoked salmon was not easy to wrap around the couscous clumps.

**I’m going to make this another time when there are chives for sale!!!

  • ½ lb smoked salmon, choose the center pieces
  • Stuffing from this recipe
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous with 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup chives, chopped
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Chive oil

Place chopped chives and garlic into food processor and process till finely chopped. Stream in olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Strain mixture into a glass bowl, Give about 30 minutes to drain, Discard solids.

For the Couscous

Follow these instructions. After adding vegetables and cheese to couscous, stir in ¼ cup of chive oil into the couscous and stuffing mixture.

For the Salmon Parcels

Make clumps of the couscous and cover with the smoked salmon. Garnish with chives.

*Adapted from Single Guy Chef.