Saturday, March 27, 2010

Duck Rillette

There are a lot of different animals that make a good rillette. Duck, specifically it's legs, is one of these. Here is a version that maintains the texture and color of the meat.
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4 duck legs

20g salt
25 dark brown sugar
.5g tcm
1g fennel seed
8 all spice berries
2g elder flower, dried leaves
5 sprigs thyme
15 black peppercorn
5g garlic
50g pinot noir
50g pork lard
Around 2 tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar
Mix everything together except for the legs, lard, and vinegar, and stir to make the cure relatively uniform. It doesn't have to completely dissolve the salt and sugar. Place the legs into the bowl and cover them with the cure. Put everything into a vacuum bag being sure to get any little bits that try and stay in the bowl (I used a FoodSaver). Vacuum and seal the bag. Let cure for 48 hours under refrigeration. Remove the legs from the bag and rinse off the outside under cold water. Place into a clean vacuum bag with the lard and seal. Poach at 91F for 8 hours. Once poached place into an ice bath and cool to 40F. Open the bag and separate the legs and duck jelly from the fat. Pick the meat away from the bones, tendons, ligaments, and anything else you don't want in your rillette. Place the picked duck meat into a bowl. Gently heat the duck jelly with some of the fat in a pan until it just start to melt. Season the meat with this liquid and the apple cider vinegar to taste; you may not use all of the jelly and you definitely will not use all of the fat. Once the duck meat is succulent from the fat, acidic from the vinegar, and salty from the jelly, pack the rillette into a container for storage. Heat some of the remaining fat until it melts and pour it over the packed rillette. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Additional Comments:
Maintaining water bath temperatures over long periods of time can be tricky. Unless you have something that is specifically designed to do this for you, you are going to have to get creative. Gas or electric ranges are not designed for cooking like in this recipe, but I make mine work pretty well. I have played around with different pots, different amounts of water, lid or no lid, and the heat set at different levels. You are looking to find out a way to get the water to reach an equilibrium point. This means seeing what temperature the water stays at for extended periods of time. For this recipe I knew that if I brought a specific pot of water to a boil, turned down the heat as low as it could go, and dropped the legs in I could get the water to stay at 91F for as long as I wanted(or at least close). Once the water dropped to 91F I put a lid on the pot. After an hour my thermometer read 91F, when I checked on the legs 4 hours later to stir them, it was 90F. At 6 hours it was 92F and after 8 hours it was 91F. So this means I know what set-up(pot,flame,water,lid) I can use to hold something within a few degrees of 91F. I also know that this same set up, but without a lid, with sit around 61F. Now I know that 1 degree, or even 1/2 of a degree can make a big difference in some cooking applications, but until I see the need invest in something that can keep a water bath within .5 degrees of accuracy I will just have to avoid extremely sensitive recipes.
I like this technique so much because the integrity of the meat is maintained. It is not a mash of meat that is then covered in seasonings, it is heavily flavored and cured duck meat coated in some of it's own fat and jelly. You only need to add some acid at the end to make this rillette balanced.

Plate it up!
Duck rillette rolled in burdock dressed with beet juice, served with red sorrel, golden beet marmalade, and orange marmalade glaze.

I think that I could get away with calling this cooking method "confit". Which means that I am claiming that if you pick the meat from a confit and then add some of the fat and jelly to the meat you have a rillette. It tastes and looks right to me.



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