Duck preserved in duck fat, confit de canard in French is one of the great delights of eating in south-western France. It is on pretty much all the menus in those parts and it is always a good reliable thing to order.
Duck confit is made from the legs and thighs of the duck, with the breasts being used as magret de canard and the rest of the meat ends up as rillettes or paté. The livers, of course are used for fois gras. You can make confit yourself, in fact I’ve done it in the past, but in France the easiest thing is to just buy your confit, which is sold in tins almost everywhere in the region, as well as in supermarkets across France. I always stock up on tins of confit when I go to France.
Confit is made by salting the duck and letting it rest, then cleaning off the salt and slowly cooking the duck legs in duck fat until they are very tender and the meat is rich and unctuous.
Getting the duck ou tof the tin is a simple matter of warming the opened tin up in a bowl of boiling water to soften the duck fat in which the meat has been cooked and then taking the duck legs out with a spoon. The meat will be incredibly soft and rich-tasting and comes easily away from the bones. There will also be the skin and sub-cutaneous fat as well.
There are lots of things that you can do with confit, putting it in cassoulet, for example but the simplest is just heating it up in the oven or in a frying pan (I prefer the oven) and serving it with a simple salad, dressed with quite a sharp vinaigrette and some frites or maybe pommes Sarladaise, which are slices of waxy potato fried in duck fat until golden with garlic and parsley added towards the end of the cooking time. If you have any truffles, you can add these to the potatoes with the garlic.
You want a local red wine to go with this; Bergerac is a pretty classic choice but any decent red Bordeaux will also go well.
So, is my current fascination for Chinese food subsiding? Well, probably not, but sometimes you just can’t beat a good steak, and this was definitely a very decent steak.
However, what I really wanted to write about was the sauce, Continue reading
Well, not quite, because this is my version that doesn’t involve a furtive trip to a dirty fried chicken outlet.
I had a load of free range chicken thighs and drumsticks that I poached in water with some bay leaves, black peppercorns, salt, three dried red chillies and a dried chipotle chilli for about 20 minutes. Then, I left them to cool down a bit in the water and then removed them to a plate. Continue reading
I haven’t been posting much for a while, pressures of work and other things, like being away on holiday.
Anyway, last night I cooked this dish and it too about 15 minutes from start to finish.
The chips were frozen ones given a blast in the deep fat fryer and the salad was just Little Gen and red chicory without any dressing because I wanted the leaves to soak up the sauce.
The pork was cut from the fattest part of a tenderloin, seasoned and simply sautéed in an iron pan with butter and some neutral oil (I used grape seed oil) for about three minutes on each side.
The meat was put to one side while I made the sauce.
I added half a glass of white wine and let it bubble down (n.b. never use cider in a cast iron pan, the sauce ends up black from the acid in the cider), then I added in two teaspoons of whole grain mustard and some cream, stirring so it was all amalgamated over a highish heat.
Then I put the meat back in the pan and let it cook for another couple of minutes on a low heat.
A dead easy but tasty dinner.
The chips were Charlotte potatoes, cut fairly chunky and washed and dried. Then they were blanched in oil at 160C and then finished off at 180C.
The courgette and tomato dish was courgettes sautéed in olive oil with chopped tomatoes and seasoned with salt, pepper and shredded basil.
The chicken breasts were cut lengthways, stuffed with some thinly sliced chorizo (the sort that doesn’t need cooking) and then roasted in olive oil with some seasoning.
That was it.
Hardly any work and really nice for a Friday evening with a glass or two of wine.
Steak Diane is a restaurant classic from the past but it is also one of those dishes that will never really go out of fashion.
I used rib-eye steak, because I think it has the most flavour, but you can also use sirloin or rump.
First, you have to make the sauce.
4 or 5 chopped white mushrooms
A finely diced shallot
A crushed clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of Cognac or other brandy
A nice big knob of butter
A big splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1 glass of white wine
Sauté the shallots, garlic and mushrooms in the melted butter until softened and them add the Cognac and flame. Then add the white wine and reduce a bit. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cream and continue cooking. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the mustard and chopped parsley.
Keep the sauce warm while you cook the steaks as you like them. Myself, I prefer them rare to medium.
Serve with some nice chunky chips and a green salad or some green beans.
To drink, it has to be a decent red wine, maybe a Bordeaux, something from the Rhône or a good Burgundy from one of the more full-bodied appellations.