Are hounds still hung over or recuperating from marathon holiday cooking/baking/eating? This was the most cooking I've ever done during the holiday season and I must say...I loved it!! If I throw in baking cookies next year (inspired by Sir Gawain), it will be a whirlwind of activity.
Well, husband and I decided to go w/ a mellow NYE this year and had a quiet dinner w/ just the two of us at home. My dear hounds, this was one of my proudest cooking moments all year! Some people go to Times Square; I roast a duck. Album with all courses below, as well as one photo to whet your appetite. I wanted to make something special but not go crazy w/ number of courses or elaborate preps so here's what we had:
Creamed oysters over toasted baguette:
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
Thanks to Monty for posting it. Unfortunately, our trusty oyster guy at the farmer's market didn't show up on NYE to the thinned out market, so our plan for raw oysters was foiled. Saw a jar of decent looking oysters at my store and decided to go for creamed oysters over toasted baguette (toast points would be better). Never having made or eaten this before, found recipe to be very easy. Sauce was like a cross btwn. bechamel and hollandaise in flavor and consistency. Creamy, a touch eggy and nutty. Fresh live oysters w/ their briney liquor would have bumped this from good to incredible. Garnished w/ parsley sprig and pinch smoked paprika (thanks to Candy for this tip!).
Amazing 5-hour Roast Duck:
Thanks to A Fish Called Wanda for bringing this to my attention amongst the recent duck chatter. No false advertising here...this was the most amazing roast duck!! So easy to cook. Obviously takes some time and patience, but the rewards are worth it!
I used a 5.5 lb. frozen duck (I think Pekin aka Long Island) from Maple Farms. Defrosted couple days before and then pre-seasoned w/ S&P a la Zuni. Using the lemon technique from Marcella's roast chicken, I stuffed the cavity w/ two punctured clementines and 3 sprigs of rosemary. I think this helped to keep the meat more moist and added a wonderful accent to the meat. Sliced the clementines in half after roasting and squeezed right over the meat for a very good and easy sauce. Next time I will make a real sauce w/ drippings, stock, and clementine juice.
I found that a pointy bamboo skewer was a great pricking tool, as opposed to the paring knife called for. Roasted for 4.5 hrs. instead of 5 since the skin was deeply bronzed by that point. The skin was crispy and flavorful. Not overly greasy or tough at all. I was worried that the meat might be dry after 5 hrs. of cooking, but duck has so much fat (almost 2 cups rendered!) that it was moist and nearly falling off the bone. Had a confit-like resemblance to it. Not as juicy or rosy as 1-1.5 hr. roasting, but I think I like this style better.
Homemade gnocchi boiled then pan-fried in duck fat: need I say more? As a carb lover, I don't know why I don't make gnocchi more often!! It's so easy and delicious. I used a great recipe from my Balthazar book, but subbed in yukon golds for russets. Wow were these decadent fried in some rendered duck fat!
Sweet and sour braised red cabbage w/ granny smith apples, dried cranberries, and caraway seed: I just made this up and the acidity from the cider vinegar and apples cut through the rich parts of the meal well. Drizzle of honey was the "sweet" component here.
We didn't eat dinner til about 9pm, but it was perfect for us. Had some champagne to start and didn't switch over to anything else since we were quite content w/ champagne. At midnight, we shared a slice of galleygirl's pear tart (I augmented w/ ground ginger and nutmeg) with what else but some homemade Tahitian vanilla ice cream...sweet ending to our best year of chow ever thanks in large part to the hound collective.
May 2006 bring many great culinary adventures, successes, and failures shared here. Now it's time to get back into the yoga studio!!
PS. I'm making a hearty soup tonight w/ leftover ingredients...duck, dumplings, cabbage, and homemade chicken/duck stock. The party isn't over yet...