31 January, 2008

Duck and Ham: The Final Chapter

Birthday Weekend in Wisconsin.

Le Diner

Magret Sec (duck prosciutto)
Bacon and Onion Tart
Trout a la Meuniere
Sticky Date Pudding

Le Petit Déjeuner

Croissants avec:
Jambon et Comté
Pâte d'Amandes

It been a busy couple of weeks here at the hermitage, but we will always take time for food and friends. This past weekend we took the show on the road to celebrate birthdays and to execute the final chapters of Ham Serial and Duck Tale.

Magret Sec (duck prosciutto)

It embarrasses me to say duck prosciutto. I suppose it's a good name, it succintly describes the flavor and the process, and it certainly has a better ring than dried duck breast, but it's not ham. So I came up with a new name, Magret Sec. It's French for dry duck filet. Sliced thin, the magret does taste a lot like its former namesake, but instead of curing for a year or more, I got mine in about a week.

I dried them for about ten days achieving about a thirty percent reduction in weight. The temperature stayed in the fifties but my humidity dipped as low as forty percent. Well worth the effort. For anyone thinking about curing duck, go for it.

Bacon and Onion Tart.

Next on the appetizer parade is Bonne Femme, with her signature Bacon and Onion Tart. Her recipe is adapted from the cookbook, Cooking with Master Chefs.

The tart is wicked easy, especially when you have frozen puff pasty dough and a Cuisinart. The bacon was cured in the pot with the ham and cold smoked for six hours.

Trout a la Meuniere

People often ask me: Are you learning anything at culinary school? Oui. On the day we were pan frying fish, Chef talked about a hatchery in Wisconsin that was great place to get fresh trout. Turns out this place is about ten minutes from where we were staying.

Rushing Waters Fisheries was pretty cool and the fish doesn't get any fresher. Since I just wanted a quick and easy appetizer, I pan fried the filets in clarified butter, then finished with a whole butter and lemon sauce served on mixed greens. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode when I cure and cold smoke some filets I brought home.


Oh boy I love this stuff. I wrote about cassoulet last year and I focused on the idea that this dish is a combination of items that come from your pantry and larder (pronounced beer fridge). This version raids the pantry again but I also made a quick trip to Walt's for some lamb.

I started with salt pork. This is cured pork belly trimmings that I did at the same as the bacon and the ham. Salt pork is bacon that has not been smoked. I chopped this stuff up and blanched it before throwing it in with the beans to cook.

While the beans are simmering I started the ragout with a couple of jars of tomato sauce (the pros call it tomato coulis), duck stock, a bouquet of rinds, and some cubed lamb shoulder.

For the sausage portion of the program, I made two kinds: A garlic recipe adapted from Ruhlman's book Charcuterie, and a Toulouse sausage.

Toulouse Sausage is required ingredient to that city's version of cassoulet (Toulouse is the Holy Ghost to Castelnaudary (the Father) and Carcassonne (the Son) in the Holy Trinity of Cassoulets) The sausage is supposed to be roughly chopped, I made mine with pork, some salt pork, salt and quatre épices.

Remember our crock of canard from two weeks ago? I had to warm the vessel in the oven so that I could wrestle the legs from their larded slumber. I browned them up in a pan along with the sausages and then assembled the whole lot (Beans and ragout too) into the biggest pan I could find.

Bubble in the oven for several hours, serve with love.

Here are the birthday girl(s) at about 23:30. JJ brought a cheese plate and Chrissy made the sticky plum pudding, shown here with candles and a caramel sauce. Zach discharged his duties expertly, sommeliering his way through the courses with some great wine choices, mostly Côtes du Rhônes, but also some domestic white and Austria red (who knew?) just to mix it up.

With dinner service concluded, time to hit the hay. The kids will be getting up in a few hours and they are going to want breakfast.

et le Jambon?

I am happy to report that the ten day long transformation from leg of pork to country style cured ham was successful. Most of it is still waiting to be made into sandwiches, the bones I saved for lentils, but some of the choicest slices went to Wisconsin last weekend to play the lead role in breakfast,

the ham and cheese croissant.

I made some chocolate ones and some almond ones too.

After breakfast we went outside.

Good food, good friends, great weekend. Anyone can do this anywhere.

Don't fuss, just cook.


1 comment:

jolie said...

Mac-- Looks great. jo and I are fixing to make up a mess of croissants today. So happy to hear that the ham turned out, maybe you should send some our way.