My last spring Lucques menu! Yes I know it's summer now but I just had to get one more in there. Duck confit has been on my list of dishes to make for a very long time now. It sounds hard though, doesn't it? Confit. Yip, sounds very hard. The Lucques recipe pairs duck confit with a savory cherry compote. How could I resist?
Upon reading the recipe and trying to get a mental to-do, I realized duck confit is so easy to make! Why had I put it off for so long? Never having tasted it was one but just fear of messing up this southwest France meat preservation method was the other. But this recipe is definitely a keeper, especially with the savory fruit compote.
A meat confit (usually geese, duck or pork) is when a meat is salted and cooked in its own fat in low heat. When the meat has finished cooking it can be stored up to a few months covered it its own fat which acts as a seal. Stuff like tomato confit and tuna confit will require the use of olive oil instead of animal fat.
In the same Lucques menu there is also a starter of white asparagus, ramps and morels with polenta. The use of cherries for the duck confit is a spring highlight but the starter would really emphasize the seasonality of this menu. So check!, added that to grocery list also.
The duck and cherries were easy to find but white asparagus, ramps and morels were nowhere to be seen. In fact, most of the farmer's market vendors I asked about ramps didn't even know what they were. Wish I rememebered that it was also called "wild leeks" so they could at least tell me where I might be able to find it or if it was already gone for the season.
Even before I went shopping I was pretty sure white asparagus would be out of my reach. But morels? I was optimistic since they are still being served at AOC. But nope, the mushroom vendor said morels were already out. Spring 2006 has been pretty much non-existent so I guess my expectations were a little bit too high, especially a few days into an already pretty hot summer.
Arg. So what's a girl to do? I mean, this is supposed to be a spring menu right?Well, I had to suck it up and just do my best. Here is what I served...
I started the meal with an impromptu salad with romaine hearts, crispy Neuske's bacon, goat cheese, and pea shoots with a simple dijon vinaigrette. For a salad that was put together last minute with stuff in the fridge it was pretty good, refreshing and pretty at the same time. I think a little more bacon wouldn't have hurt. But when does having more bacon ever hurt? God, I love bacon.
Next up was the revised polenta dish. I made a super soft polenta but rebelling against the instructions in the cookbook. I swear the total amount of time in the recipe was over 2 hours or something! I'm not that crazy. I made mine in 20 minutes and and it was completely delicious. Topped it with a more humble grouping of vegetables and mushroom with green asparagus, spring onion and cremini mushrooms. Still springy I believe. If I had a readily useable grill I would have added grilled leeks. The polenta was super fluffy, light and perfect with the vegetables and mushroom.
Then finally, duck confit. My goodness, my whole house smelled like deliciousness! Especially with some black rice and savory cherry compote simmering away on the stove. The recipe instructs to take the duck legs out of the oil when it's done and fire it away for 10 minutes or so in a very hot oven to make the skin crispy. Brilliant!
The duck leg meat was so tender, falling off with just a gentle pressure of the fork. I was gnawing on the bone to get every little bit of carmelized skin off. The briny black rice was a nice complement to the rich flavor of the duck and the sweet and savory cherry compote brought everything together. Just imagine that - briny, , nutty, sweet, savory, earthy. Crispy, tender, creamy. Brilliant!
Yumm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
But now I must say goodbye to spring and jump in head-in into the summer menus. So many different dishes caught my eye already while I was browsing through the book. I'll be more on top of things this time though. No slacking off and procrastinating until the last month of summer! Lest I wish to face the doom of unavailable produce again.