Duck Crostini with Radicchio Slaw and Roasted Apricots

Duck Crostini TasteFood
Messy is ok sometimes – especially when you are heaping lots of delectables onto crisp crostini. In such the case it’s inevitable that some of the ingredients will tumble onto the plate, creating random ‘garnishes’. This is when the term rustic comes in handy. Rustic implies comfort and nothing too fancy, with an emphasis on adjectives such as finger-licking and delicious. Or at least that’s how it works here.

Crostini are a fun way to present a light and casual meal. They are also a great way to showcase simple fresh ingredients and use up interesting leftovers. For this recipe I used duck meat that was leftover from my current cookbook project. I shredded the leg meat and quickly caramelized it in the oven, then mounded it over the toasts. While chances are you may not have leftover duck loitering in the back of your fridge, duck legs can usually be found at your local market or butcher. Otherwise, shredded pork is a great substitute. The point is to have a little fun building your crostini, and try to be creative with what you’ve got. And it’s ok if they are messy – just call them rustic.

Duck Crostini with Radicchio and Apricots
Makes  12

Radicchio slaw:
1 small head radicchio, shredded
1  1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1  1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper

2 apricots, halved and pitted
Vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 (1/2-inch thick) ciabatta or sourdough bread slices, cut in half
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Duck:
8 ounces cooked and shredded duck leg meat with skin
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat (or vegetable oil)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

1. Combine the radicchio slaw ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Brush the apricots with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and bake, skin-side down, until the flesh is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool; do not turn off the oven.
3. Arrange the bread slices in one layer on a baking tray. Brush the bread  with the olive oil and lightly season with salt. Bake in the oven until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
4. Turn on the oven broiler. Combine the duck ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Spread in a baking dish and broil until brown and beginning to crisp in parts, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once.
6. Drain the radicchio. Arrange the bread on a serving platter. Mound some of the radicchio over each bread slice. Top with a few pieces of duck and a small dollop of apricot flesh. Garnish with parsley and additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Jerk Chicken

Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk is a thick and heady Afro-Carribean marinade chock-a-block full of ingredients. Don’t let the lengthy list of spices and aromatics deter you. All you need is the fire of a grill to unify the flavors and create a spicy-sweet finger licking dinner – perfect for a summer barbecue. The heat in the marinade traditionally comes from Scotch Bonnet peppers (super hot). I’ve modified that with jalapeños – but feel free to go all out with a scotch bonnet (carefully seeded with gloved hands!) if you dare. And remember – as with most meat marinades, the longer the chicken can soak in the marinade, the better the flavor.

Jerk Chicken
Serves 6

Marinade:
6 garlic cloves
4 scallions, chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded (optional)
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 chicken legs and/or breasts with skin and ribs

Method:
1. Place the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to form a paste. Arrange the chicken in a large baking dish. Rub the marinade all over the chicken and under the skin where possible. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat. Grill the chicken over indirect heat until charred and golden brown and thoroughly cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size and thickness. During the last few moments of grilling, move the chicken to direct heat to char the skin as needed.
3. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

Crispy Duck Banh Mi Sliders

Duck Sliders tastefood

In our multi-national family with previous addresses in 4 countries, we’ve adopted a hodge-podge of cultural traditions that we call our own when it comes to Christmas. In Danish style, we celebrate with a big dinner on the 24th, when we light live candles on our Christmas tree. The meal often includes duck and beef, surrounded by French favorites such as Pommes Dauphinoise and a climactic Buche de Noel. The 25th is decidedly more low key, perhaps with a foray into Chinatown for dim sum, or a lazy day of leftovers, smoked salmon and cheese. Luckily there is always some duck left over from the night before, which I stash in the back of the refrigerator for a more Asian inspired meal on the 26th or 27th. Duck reheats beautifully with a little help from some of it’s rendered fat, and when shredded it’s happily reinvented into spicy lettuce cups – or banh mi.

Shredded Crispy Duck Banh Mi Sliders with Pickled Carrot Radish Slaw and Spicy Aioli

These sliders are a firework of flavors and sensations. Shredded duck coated with a sweet and salty Sriracha glaze and crisped in the oven until caramelized is layered with creamy garlicky aioli, piquant veggie slaw, fresh cucumber and jalapeno heat. Here’s a recipe where you can use up any shredded duck meat, and if you don’t have any leftover duck lurking in your refrigerator, purchase duck legs confit and shred those for a luxurious step.

Slaw:
1 large carrot, cut in matchsticks
1 (4-inch) piece daikon radish, cut in matchsticks
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Spicy Aioli:
½ cup mayonniase
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Sriracha or Asian hot sauce

Duck:
8 ounces cooked and shredded duck leg meat (or confit)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or rendered duck fat)
1 tablespoon Sriracha or Asian hot sauce
½ teaspoon ground coriander

6 French-style dinner rolls or slider buns, halved crosswise
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

Make the slaw:
Place the carrot and daikon in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the vegetables, then rub with your fingertips until vegetables soften, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and lime juice and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make the aioli:
Whisk all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Chill until use.

Make the duck:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the duck in a small baking dish. Whisk the soy sauce, sugar, oil, Sriracha and coriander in a small bowl. Pour over the duck and mix to thoroughly coat. Bake in the top third of the oven until crisp and caramelized in parts, about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Assemble sliders:
Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons aioli on bottom bun half. Top with a layer of cucumber and then a mound of the carrot and daikon slaw. Top the slaw with shredded duck. Arrange jalapeno slices over the duck and top with cilantro sprigs. Spread another teaspoon of aioli on the top bun half. Repeat with remaining buns. Serve with lime wedges.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Yogurt, Lemon and Garlic

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Yogurt, Lemon and Garlic

If you are wishing for an easy and rewarding rustic dinner then look no further than this roast chicken. A whole roasted chicken is  a weeknight wonder, yielding a bounty of food with little effort. It will fill your home with comforting and tantalizing aromas as it cooks, amply feed a family of 4 with leftovers for lunch, and bestow you with the goods for a rich and restorative stock.

I roast a chicken nearly weekly in our home. For variety, it’s easy to change it up with a rub or marinade depending on the mood or season. Feeling spicy? Then try a marinade with Sriracha and serve over a bed of couscous. Prefer something cozy and traditional for a grey and rainy day? Then keep it simple with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and a pan gravy. If you are in the mood for exotic spice and aroma, like I was the other day, then try this recipe which infuses the bird with yogurt, lemon, garlic and ginger.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Yogurt, Lemon and Garlic 

Serve with baby potatoes roasted in the pan juices. Serves 4 to 6.

For the chicken:
1 whole free-range or organic chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup whole milk Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the potatoes:
2 pounds baby potatoes, halved if large
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt

Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425 F. Rinse the chicken all over and inside the cavity with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Rub the paste all over the outside of the chicken, between the skin and breast, and inside the cavity.  Place, breast-side up, in the center of a baking pan or oven proof skillet.

Prepare the potatoes: Toss the potatoes, olive oil, paprika and salt in a bowl. Scatter around the chicken. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Using tongs, carefully turn the chicken over, breast-side down. Stir the potatoes. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and once again turn the chicken over, breast-side up. Return to oven and cook until chicken is thoroughly cooked and thigh juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving. While the chicken is resting, return potatoes to oven to keep warm. Carve the chicken and return to skillet, nestling the meat between the potatoes in the pan juices.

Braised Chicken in White Wine

Braised Chicken in White Wine

~ Braised Chicken in White Wine with Carrots, Mushrooms and Thyme ~

On the first day of the new year I make a stew. There are many reasons why I do this. Stews and braises are healthy and fortifying, a comforting antidote to holiday menus and festivities. Stews are reflective, incorporating humble ingredients with heat and time, yielding deeply flavorful results. Stews comfort and nourish us, while warming us on a cold winter day. This year I received a beautiful French oven for a gift, so I have another reason to make a delicious stew today.

Braised Chicken in White Wine

The chicken skin remains exposed while the chicken braises to maintain the color and crispness of its skin. Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an ovenproof pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits in pan. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

The Grand Finale: Charcutepalooza Cassoulet

The Grand Finale: Charcutepalooza Cassoulet

~ Duck, Sausage and White Bean Stew ~

Finally the finale. The year of meat has come to an end. This month is the last Charcutepalooza challenge, which requires a menu, platter or composed dish incorporating 3-4 of the charcuterie items prepared over the year. My first inclination was to prepare a platter, because, frankly, this is how I best prefer to enjoy charcuterie – on a large wooden board with an array of little bowls filled with pickles, mustard, black peppercorns and sea salt, accompanied by slabs of country style bread (and just a little cheese.)

~ Caramelized Home-cured Bacon, Boar & Pork Pate, Pork Rillettes ~

But this is the finale, so something more substantial and celebratory than a charcuterie board is in order. December is holiday season, and nothing speaks more to our Danish family than duck at Christmas. And what better way to celebrate duck than with a cassoulet – a French white bean stew brimming with duck leg confit, sausage and bacon. This version is not an authentic cassoulet, as I had to use whatever homemade charcuterie I had in the freezer or could make on short notice. So, I am calling it a Charcutepalooza Cassoulet – or a Duck, Sausage and White Bean Stew.

Duck, Sausage and White Bean Stew

Start with uncooked white beans for best results – canned beans will turn mushy. If you don’t have access to duck confit, then substitute with an additional pound of duck breast. Serves 4-6.

1 cup dried cannelini beans or northern beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound duck breast (1 large), skin removed and reserved for another use
1/2 pound mild pork sausage
1/4 pound bacon, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (15 ounces) plum tomatoes with juice
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 confit duck legs, boned, meat shredded

Bring beans and 4 cups (1 liter) of water to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 1 hour. Drain.
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and duck breasts in batches without overcrowding. Brown on all sides. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, halve each sausage and cut duck breasts in 2 inch chunks.
Add bacon to the pot. Saute until lightly brown and fat renders. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery.  Saute until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any brown bits; reduce by half. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Stir in beans and return sausage and  duck breast to the pot, submerging in the stock. (If necessary, add more stock to cover.) Cover and transfer to oven. Cook until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and stir in the duck confit. Return to oven and cook, partially covered, for an additional 1 hour.

What is Charcutepalooza?
An inspirational idea hatched by Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster and partnering with Food52 and Punk Domestics. It celebrates a Year in Meat, where participating foodies and bloggers will cure, smoke and salt their way through Michael Ruhlman’s bestselling cookbook Charcuterie.

Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup

Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup


~ Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup ~

My inspiration for making soup is often a convergence of too many veggies in the refrigerator with homemade stock and leftovers from a roast chicken. Such was the case after a weekend of house guests and dinners involving carnitas, black bean salsa, lots of corn and the aforementioned roast chicken. This recipe is not an authentic tortilla soup, as I managed to empty most of the contents of my veggie drawer into it. It’s chock-a-block full of corn, beans, zucchini and peppers, which led me to call it a Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 sweet red pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 cups chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 pound shredded cooked chicken
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Tortilla chips, broken in pieces

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and zucchini and sauté briefly, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, plum tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer partially covered, about 20 minutes. Stir in the corn, beans, and chicken and simmer until piping hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired. Stir in the cilantro leaves and ladle into bowls. Serve garnished with the tortilla chips.