Thursday, June 4, 2009

Duck Confit- Oyster Mushroom Risotto

One of the best experiences I have had with risotto at restaurants was at Phicoline's in NYC, possibly as far back as 1999. I was in one of those phases of 'try' everything and all things risotto. I had made it on my own, but had not quite captured its true essence; that is until I had Phicoline's Duck Confit Risotto. I even made hubby take me back twice more, if we were in town for another bowl; it proved to be consistently delicious!

This past Sunday hubby went out to the market for me, as I was trying to keep my foot up, and was in considerable pain. How did you cook you ask, well for that I will endure the process, but had the help of a rolling office chair. I did however ask hubby to get the meat department at Wegmen's to cut up the D'artangan whole duck, but he missed that instruction, so I decided to split it breast side up; removed enough of the rib cage to push it down flat into my roasting pan; covered it in salt and seasonings; let it sit for a while, and then cover with EVO. Place into a preheated oven, turning it down to 250 and began rendering the duck fat for my cassoulet, and risotto post.

That duck I had photographed may have looked big, but believe me; it had more skin than meat. Hubby got a nice piece of duck breast for his cassoulet, and some for his lunch; otherwise take the meat off of the bone, and place down into the fat. Refrigerate. You may store this for up to two months, and must be at least one inch under oil and duck fat mixture(using glass jar is appropriate). Reserve some gelee for making risotto.

Sauteing vidalia onions, herbs, Merlot salt, pepper in five tablespoons of duck fat; I began the base for the risotto. Place the bones into two cups water to make a duck stock; add at least two cups of stock to your sauteed onions, and turn to medium high heat. Then add one cup of duck gelee from bottom of roasting pan. When it begins to boil add two cups of risotto grain. Also adding some chopped shredded duck, one cup of chopped oyster mushrooms, and more salt and pepper if needed. Staying close by, stirring as the risotto soaks up the stock, and carefully adding a half cup as needed until it is done.

I have never really timed this process. I just do other things while I am watching over the pot. Cutting up some sweet potato sticks along with zucchini wedges I make a ginger pear vinegar water bath for both. Letting them soak to give me a crisp bite once I fry them in some duck fat as a side.

Now that the risotto is cooked I add one cup of heavy cream, and stir. Taste for seasoning purposes, and then I stir in some left over piece of Camembert cheese. Cover and begin frying your vegetables. I saved some of the oyster mushrooms for a little garnish, and served up a side of the extra duck for hubby to enjoy.

CONFIT INFORMATION: The restaurants, Chefs I have worked with that serve duck confit made a considerable amount on a weekly basis. Once it is preserved in the fat, one inch over the meat; it will keep for weeks, and even a few months. Duck confit is used for many dishes where I worked, and the meat shredded and covered in the fat was served on a charcutterie dish I was responsible for.

'Confit' is generic French for 'preserve'; although you have to add EVO to creat a considerable amount of fat, and salt it to preserve the meat (has to be at least once inch above meat during storage). Legs are typically and traditionally used for this dish in Southwestern France. To many of us, we think of 'Duck confit' as a concept, or cooking method, because that is what we generally are told when asking waitstaff from the menu.

New American cuisine that began appearing on menus, such as Tomato confit, works on the same concept; slow cooked tomatoes in their own juices. You still have to add oil to make up for the lack of fat. Some recipes like rendering pork lard call for pan rendering small pieces, but you also can boil it in some amount of water to pull out the fat, but simply using EVO along with duck fat is simply the best method..

What is duck confit?

You may have seen duck confit, or confit de canard, on a menu or in a can and wondered what this specialty food from France was all about.

In France 'Confit' is often a duck but it can be a goose, turkey or even pork. The meat is cooked in its own fat before being canned and preserved in it as well. If you ever saw the meat covered in this fat for yourselves, well it may not look too appetizing at this point, but you are just minutes away from enjoying a delicious gourmet dish. Many specialty markets carry small cans of this already prepared, but make sure you look to see if it contains 'duck.

This fashion of preparing a duck is considered a specialty of the Gascony region in south-west France, reputed for its foie gras and Armagnac brandy as well.

Someone mentioned in a comment on my recent 'duck' post, "Is duck greasy"; well making confit can be messy, but the duck fat is worth the effort. I recommend purchasing duck breast if this method of cooking it does not sound like your cup of tea. Use a soy ginger glaze under, and on the outside of the skin, just just simply sear it in a pan, or place it on the grill!

Here is a closer look, just in case someone out there does not believe it is 'dark meat' duck...