I knew that at some point I would preserve duck breast (duck prosciutto) as a part of the Charcuterie Challenge. So to plan for the prosciutto, we purchased six ducklings last Spring, of whom we’ve become very fond. The kids picked them out at the farm supply store and since we read that the louder ones were female, the kids boxed up the most obnoxious quackers. This was challenging since the tornado siren was going off at the time in the area and locals were panicking (namely me). We have often wondered if this siren was a bad omen. Ducks are trouble, stinky and messy and better left to be raised by a mama duck than humans (in our humble opinion) problem is, we’re told Pekin ducks make terrible setters and not so great mothers.
After our experience acting in the role of a mama duck, we decided we would never do this again! MESSY! However, we ended up with five female ducks and one drake and in keeping with the Pekin breed, all five ducks are laying prolifically. Therefore, no ducks on our farm were processed for this challenge. But we have duck eggs!
For confitting, we sourced two whole locally raised ducks, already cleaned and plucked but with head and feet on. After cutting up the ducks for confit, we were left with parts for stock and breasts for something else (maybe prosciutto?).
To cure them, we used star anise, white pepper, black pepper, Celtic sea salt, dried orange peel, black Nigella seeds, oregano, thyme, lots of smashed garlic and a few red pepper flakes. For the fat, we added coconut oil to cover the meat anticipating Asian flavors and spices for our ultimate recipe.
What we found out about confit(ting) aka preserving was that it’s easy enough to do during a work week. We cured at night before bed, left the meat for 24 hours in the fridge and then cooked the duck in the oven over low heat that second night, overnight, while we slept. It cooled in the early morning and was set in the fridge again, already encased in fat by the time we left for work. Our understanding is that the longer our duck sits in the fridge, encased by said fat, the better it gets.
Today, we were ready to make something delicious with our duck. However first, we sought some inspiration at our favorite Vietnamese/Asian restaurant.
We ALL love Spring Rolls, who doesn’t? Wouldn’t they be even better with duck instead of shrimp and pork and how about some fresh farm greens?
After our extensive lunchtime “field research”, we still had a commitment. Mr. Pink Guitar was scheduled to lay down some drum tracks on an EP, a compilation of five songs that a friend was recording in Nashville, at Prime Cut Studio. We thought it would be fun to hang out for a behind the scenes look at how an “album” is recorded.
Then, it was home to the farm to feed animals and get dinner on the table. Dinner would be duck confit in spring rolls with a homemade peanut sauce. We were planning on crispy “wontons” of duck skin, one version of cracklins, but ran out of time.
Most of the ingredients came from our Asian grocery store, we love our Asian grocery store. First of all, we can find all kinds of unusual things to cook with, and more importantly, the food is much more reasonably priced than our regular grocery store, a great way to cut down on the food bill.
Homemade peanut sauce: Adapted from this recipe:
1 Cup peanut butter (we used crunchy)
½ Cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp Sriracha
2-3 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, minced or grated
5 large cloves garlic, minced
Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
Mix all ingredients together except cilantro, add cilantro to the sauce right before serving.
Our spring rolls are a little different in Middle TN. Bear with us here…we’re using home-grown greens.
4 Confitted duck legs, deboned, meat chopped
1 bunch arugula
1/2 head Napa cabbage, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 medium carrots, grated
1 package vermicelli noodles (cooked and cooled)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
1 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger root
2 limes, juiced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
White pepper to taste
1 package spring roll rice wrappers softened in hot water for about 20 seconds just prior to wrapping the filling.
Mix all of the above ingredients together except the spring roll wrappers. Put about a 1/3 cup of the filling in the center of the wrapper and roll up burrito style.
Dip in the peanut sauce and enjoy.
Yes, we thought about doing the white beans and greens with the confit. Actually the beans are already cooked for tomorrows dinner, but it makes sense to mix it up with some unexpected flavors every now and again…