Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Tuesday's Teaser

Tom says:
So, Tuesday's Teaser is running a bit late. Everything in our lives right now seems to be running a half hour behind. Things we thought we'd do in the morning don't get tackled until late afternoon; plans for early evening get pushed back to the next morning. But--enough with the whining. As someone reminded me the other day, I did, after all, sign up for this.

Today's menu preview: Duck Breast

It seems I've always loved duck and if I recall--someone (I wonder who?) will correct me if I'm wrong--it's what Maureen ordered on one of our first dates down in South Beach (talk about your whirlwind courtship). That aside, my love for duck has as much to do with its flavor as its versatility. As a young chef I learned early on that working with it provided a multitude of ways for me to--forgive the pun--spread my creative wings.

The Duck Breast at Z is a dish I've been working on for years, adding and subtracting, tweaking and fine-tuning until I hit upon what I believe is a new classic.

We start with a whole duck--bone-out breast and thigh. The thighs are slow cooked, confit-style. Fat is rendered from the breasts (skin down, low temp), then placed in reserve for more culinary goodness later in the process; meat is picked from the confit thighs, added to a mix of red peppers, cucumbers, Napa cabbage, cilantro and mint before being rolled into a Vietnamese-style spring roll.

The duck breast itself is then seared skin up in a H O T pan, then put into the oven, skin down again, with a hoisin glaze. We leave it in there just long enough to achieve medium rare--fine duck breast off the bone should never exceed a medium temperature. When it does, the meat dries, toughens and takes on the gamey flavor that turns folks away from it. I promise you, no one is going to turn away from our Duck Breast.

The final component of this signature dish is basmati rice cakes seasoned with a bit of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. The rice is purposely overcooked just a smidge so that once it's cooled, it rolls easily into balls that are then flattened into cakes. How are the cakes cooked? See above; culinary goodness. Also known as duck fat. It's my opinion in general that fat rules, but duck fat? It doesn't get much better than that.

If you want to see the garnish, well, you'll just have to come in, won't you?

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