My boyfriend will sometimes tease me for my desire to make things out of scratch. "There's really no reason to make homemade Cheez-Its," he'll insist. But it looks like so much fun!
I also enjoy the quality control that comes out of doing-it-yourself. That and the sense of ownership. "This sauce, this sauce isn't Ragu's," I can boast, possibly while planting a tiny flag in middle of the dish. "It. Is. Mine."
Sometimes, though, it simply comes down to availability. Whaddaya mean you don't carry squash blossoms because they're too delicate to ship? FINE, THEN. I'LL JUST GROW MY OWN SQUASH. (Look for an upcoming blog on tempura squash blossoms!)
With this recipe, I could not readily find the required demi-glace, so why not make it? Essentially it's reduced espagnole sauce combined with stock. Espagnole sauce is one of the five French mother sauces, and I love challenging myself to the complicated balance of French gastronomy.
The sauces weren't difficult. Just involved. I did not have veal stock for the demi-glace, so I went with beef. Forgivable, I hope! For the most part, the success of the sauces comes down to the simmer. They bring themselves to perfection.
Mirepoix. Isn't that a lovely term? It refers to a collection of aromatics--usually the above pictured celery, carrots, and onions--used to add flavor to stocks and sauces.
The cheesecloth for the bouquet garni does not absolutely need to be unrolled in a dramatic fashion. But it does add a certain something to the proceedings.
Before adding the sachet, I brought the sauce to a boil.
Then I added in my bouquet garni and let it simmer. So much fun! I don't know why I don't cheesecloth my sauces more often.
Once the espagnole was created, I added two cups of brown stock and let it boil and then simmer for another twenty minutes.
After which I strained out the mirepoix.
Once the duck was done roasting...
And the radicchio and chard were sauteed...
You can plate it all together!
And drizzle the finished sauce on top.
Much more direction below!
Roasted Duck with a Strawberry-Rhubarb Glaze over Polenta
1 3 - 5 lb. duck, fat removed
1 cup strawberry rhubarb jam (recipe here)
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, punctured several times
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups stock
1/8 cup tomato puree
Bouquet garni: 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs thyme, 3 - 4 parsley stems
2 cups brown stock
3 bunches rainbow chard, chopped
1 large head of radicchio, chopped into 1-inch wedges
1 small onion, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
3 cups water
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 375. In a small saucepan, melt the jam until it is syrupy. Rub the duck with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Remove innards and replace with punctured lemon and four sprigs of thyme. Put duck in rack of large roasting pan and baste with melted jam. Roast in oven for one hour (basting several times throughout).
2. Meanwhile, melt two tablespoons butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) and saute a few minutes until lightly browned. Stir in flour until roux is formed. Lower heat and cook for 4 - 5 minutes until roux is turning golden.
3. Whisk in stock and tomato puree. Pour slowly but whisk vigorously! Eradicate the lumps!
4. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and add the bouquet garni. Simmer for about 45 - 50 minutes. It's probably best to start the espagnole sauce a little before you put the duck in the oven--bringing it to a simmer about fifteen minutes before you start roasting the bird--to get the timing exact.
5. Once the sauce is reduced to a third of its original volume, remove from heat and take out the sachet. Add in two more cups of brown stock and return to heat, bringing to a boil and then simmering again for twenty minutes.
[Now you're changing your just-produced espagnole sauce into a demi-glace! Pat yourself on the back! While pouring yourself a drink! If you can do all this, I'm sure you're capable of growing hands at will.]
6. Heat three cups water in a medium saucepan over high, bringing to a boil. Stir in cornmeal and lower to a simmer. Stirring frequently, cook for twenty minutes, until all water is absorbed. Add in parmesan, stirring to combine.
6. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add in onions and garlic and sautee until starting to brown.
7. Working in batches, add in bunches of chard and radicchio, cooking until wilted. Once all is wilted, remove from heat and stir in red wine vinegar.
8. Stir in demi-glace to remaining melted jam. Bring to a boil and let thicken for five minutes, then remove from heat.
8. By now, your duck should be done and rested for fifteen minutes. Carve the duck. Then serve over polenta surrounded by a ring of chard and radicchio. Ladle sauce over duck. Enjoy!