Man do these one day weekends fly by, let me tell you.
Not a very busy Sunday as I have a firm policy in place during tax season that I do absolutely NOTHING on Sundays and only entertain people who understand that this policy is set in stone. You come over on Sunday, be prepared to sit on the couch in your PJ's and drink beer...and maybe I'll cook something nice, as that's pleasurable for me, so it doesn't count as 'doing something'.
Like what, you say? Why I'm glad you asked, as I made a pretty damn good dinner last night if I do say so myself, and I'm a gonna tell you all about it right now.
First, you should know that last week my wife bought a package of figs. I haven't used figs much, but told her I would come up with something, but to be honest, I hadn't up to yesterday afternoon thought of anything, until my wife came back from the grocery store (hey! Don't call me a cad, refer to the policy mentioned earlier in the post!) with something I could definitely work with. Two beautiful long island duck breasts!
A menu started to form in my mind from all the stuff we have had in the fridge...I had a bunch of brussell sprouts from the previous week that needed to be used up...some bacon in the freezer...half a block of muenster cheese left over from a casserole I made a ways back, and some shredded cheddar....yeah, yeah! This is shaping up nice!
Let me tell you, nothing gets me off like using up old stuff from other meals (well, not old, just in the fridge and not purposefully bought for this meal), I think all cooks love to do this, as it's frugality at it's best.
SOOOO, I sliced up some baker potatoes on me trusty mandolin, nice and thin, and float them in water so they don't discolor. Meanwhile I have a bechamel sauce going on the stove, that I thicken even further with about half of the shredded cheese. You see where I'm going with this don't you? Potatoes Au Gratin.....I could eat nothing but variations on this dish from now til the day I day. Which would probably be about two years down the road, this shit is rich.
The brussell sprouts I cut in half and blanched in boiling salted water, then shocked them in ice when they reached the correct color and tenderness. These I would pan sear with bacon (I rendered the bacon first, about one slice worth, at low heat to the point that is was cooked, but not crispy, yet, then I turn up the heat to full and add the sprouts, this crisps the bacon, and adds a nice caramelized sear to the flat parts of the sprouts...remember, they were halved).
The duck I kept simple, scoring the skin in a criss cross pattern, seasoned with just salt and pepper. I pan seared it on medium low in a cast iron skillet (I fucking love my cast iron pans, they rock when it comes time to sear something), rendering the fat out of the skin and making it dark golden brown and delicious. I flipped the breasts over and bumped them in the oven to finish cooking. Many chefs like to cook their duck rare to medium rare, I prefer it somewhere between medium and medium rare myself. There is still juices, still a blush of red, and it's still tender and good, but you don't have that raw meat texture that can be kind of a turn off in large quantities. It's nice to know you don't have to worry about salmonella with ducks, as they do not carry this food borne illness.
Lastly I prepared the sauce, I cut up the figs my wife had procured, and sauteed them with a minced shallot and some garlic for a minute or two. I then deglazed the sauce pan with some red wine, and added some chicken stock (I always have home made stock on hand, it's one of the things that I love to do for myself, and when you make it, it makes your whole house smell like awesome chicken soup, best thing in the world on a cold winters day), and after tasting, decided a splash of soy sauce was also needed. I reduced this down to a syrupy consistency and then strained out the solids with a fine sieve.
When it was ready to plate, I put a nice cut of the gratin in the center of the plate (at this point I had let it rest to allow the sauce and cheese to set up some, also the duck had been resting as well, best thing for a duck if you ask me), then scattered the sprouts around the nice square cut of gratin. Then I sliced the duck nice and thin on the bias, giving me nice thin slices with a crispy outer skin, and fanned that on top of the gratin. Lastly I drizzled the syrupy fig sauce on the duck and around the plate, it looked great, and as my old chef used to tell me, if the food looks good, it tastes good before it gets in your mouth.
It tasted awesome, the smooth creaminess of the gratin was nicely balanced by the tart sweetness of the fig sauce, and brussell sprouts and bacon are two of my favorite things, and they go awesome together. All in all, not a very healthy meal, but it was delicious. I wish I had pictures for you folks, but alas, I was too lazy to take them. I hope I painted a good enough picture with my words.
Why don't you make something interesting to eat this week and post about it?