Thursday, August 3, 2017

Freezer Adventures: Roasted Duck Red Curry

Confession: It's possible that I'm a bit of a food-hoarder.  I could tell you a sad story about the time in my life that I blame for this tendency, but it's really not that interesting or important.  The important thing is that I am the kind of person who winds up with a duck, 3 Magret duck breasts, and 4 duck leg quarters in my freezer for longer than is remotely necessary.  Half of that duck is going to turn into something Trinidadian soon. (Actually soon.  I promise.) The rest turned into one of my favorite foods: Roast Duck Red Curry...
This is the part where I share my magic duck marinade:
I took it (essentially) from a book I've had forever, and decided to apply it to my whole duck as well as to the duck breast (which is all the original recipe calls for).
I was planning to marinate overnight, but life got in the way and there was no way I was going to roast a duck on the day that followed, so the duck marinated for two days, and it was brilliant.  I will intentionally "over-marinate" going forward when I make this recipe.  (In general, as long as you don't have too much salt, acid, or other meat-breaker-downer in your marinade, I've only tasted positive things from times I've accidentally over-marinated...)  So, 48 hours later the marinated duck and its neck went in a roasting pan and into a 425°F oven...
and came out a couple hours (and a couple flips) later looking browned, crispy, and amazing... Meanwhile, the marinated duck breast cooked for 4 hours sous vide at 135°F before going into an ice bath and then the fridge...
I was out of time for the day, so I wrapped up the duck for the fridge and collected all the pan drippings... That's a lot of fat, but also a lot of delicious juices (and a roasted neck)...
The next day was finally curry day.  (I may have sampled some of the leg meat the night before... and it was definitely fantastic...)
As I pulled meat from the carcass, I realized that the duck breast was a bit superfluous...  No shortage of duck meat here...
When I was searing off the breast in a pan, I decided to go ahead and sear off the skin from the whole duck, as well...  So pretty...
The point of the roasted neck and all those bones was to get a nice duck(ish) stock for my curry.  I threw the bones and neck into a pot with some homemade chicken stock, lime leaves, Thai basil, star anise, and cinnamon and simmered until it tasted like heaven.
Vegetables! (and fruit...)  I have a love-hate mental relationship with fruit in my savory dishes, but I always enjoyed pineapple in my duck curries when I was in Thailand, and I find that my brain  tends to object to fruit+meat more than my palate... (Obviously not on pizza, though.  That's gross.)  So, in addition to some green beans and grape tomatoes, I opened a can of pineapple and charred off hunks on the grill for a bit of flavor...
I like my green beans practically raw, so I simply seared off the tomatoes and beans in a bit of duck fat until I got a few good charred spots going...
With that, all of my perfectly-cooked stir-ins were ready... just waiting on a perfect sauce to be stirred into...
I went ahead and used store-bought red curry paste, cooked down with coconut milk, duck(ish) stock, lime leaves, palm sugar, red chilies, and fish sauce...
When the sauce was where I wanted it, all of that yumminess above got stirred in... and I got happy.
I use a lot of mason jars these days...  I think they're handy in general, but particularly for saucy things that you want to re-therm sous vide.  The jars can go right into the water bath and you don't waste vacuum bags (or time waiting for things to cool enough to seal in a chamber vacuum).
Speaking of mason jars, I threw together some Tom Kha Goong as well, and portioned into mason jars for easy therming to 131°F (no over-cooked shrimp from boiling, plus ingredients are well-distributed among portions).
 
When go-time came, it was just a matter of plating and eating.  I made some jasmine rice using leftover duck(ish) stock, and also fried up some crab rangoon from the freezer because I was trying to impress a guest... 
The sliced, medium-rare duck breast topped the curry (which contains the more-shredded meat from the whole duck...).
A big handful of Thai basil chiffonade, and life was good...
Did I end up freezing several portions of duck curry later, thus somewhat detracting from the goal of clearing out the freezer?  Maybe... But at duck curry is a lot easier to spontaneously heat up than a whole duck, plus takes up less space, so I'm going to call it progress.  Delicious, umami-bomb progress...

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