Thursday, 4 February 2010

Orange Duck with Fried Wild Rice

This was inspired by the purchase of some Seville Oranges which are currently in season, as well as a couple of duck breasts in the freezer. It was not 100% successful, but close enough to post for future reference since I will definitely want to do it again. It may not have been perfect, but it was still pretty darn good.

Both of these dishes cook up very quickly. Apart from cooking the wild rice the day before, everything should go together in not much more than 20 minutes. I'm describing making each component separately, but they should start cooking at the same time. I'm also calling for carrot in the wild rice, which you can see is not there. It turns out someone used up all the carrots and didn't even notice, *ahem*. I think it would have been better with it.

As for the duck, the sauce was very tasty as I made it, but could use some tweaking. I put in star anise and dried chiles, but my technique did not allow the flavours to develop enough (or at all, frankly) so I am proposing making an infusion of them instead of just putting them in, which is what I actually did. The sauce cooks so quickly that that just didn't work.

Also, I sliced the duck before putting on the sauce as I thought it would make a nice presentation but nix on that. All it did was allow a lot of juice to flow out and dilute the sauce.

And finally, there were a lot of accumulated juices in the duck packet, and ever-frugal me dumped them into the sauce. This turned a nice clear-fruity sauce into something that looked a lot more like gravy, and rather lumpy gravy at that. It tasted fine, but not exactly beautiful. I'd say it's your call on whether you want to do that, but I recommend not.

I cooked twice as much wild rice as I needed, just because it is so hard to cook less. The second half will make a nice salad later this week.

Note that although I list cooking the duck and sauce second, the sauce ingredients should be mixed before you start cooking the fried wild rice.

2 servings
20 minutes prep time

Orange Duck with Fried Wild Rice
To Do Ahead:
2 skinless, boneless duck breasts (about 400 grams/bit less than a pound)
3/4 cup wild rice
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

If your duck breasts are frozen, be sure to take them out of the freezer the night before. The wild rice should be cooked the night before as well, or at least early in the morning of the day it is to be served. As ever; wild rice, water and salt go into rice-cooker. Turn it on and cook. Once it's cool, chill until needed. (There was a small amount of water left over in my rice - if you have that happen, you should be sure to drain it off before chilling.)

Prepare the Fried Rice
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 cup diced mushrooms, shiitake for preference
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/2 of the cooked wild rice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Seville orange zest
1 tablespoon good quality oyster sauce

Wash, trim and chop the celery fairly finely. Peel and chip the onion about the same. Peel and dice the carrot finely, or grate it if you prefer. Clean and dice the mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and sauté the vegetables until softened. (As soon as they go in, the pan for the duck should be turned on.)

Add the wild rice and the orange zest, and mix in well. Cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in the oyster sauce in the last minue of cooking. The rice should be dry looking, with a few signs of things browning.

Cook the Duck and Orange Sauce:
2 star anise pods
4 or 5 dried whole little red chiles
1/4 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon finely grated Seville orange zest
the juice of 1 Seville orange
1 or 2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Put the star anise and red chiles in a small pot with the water, and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute or so, then turn off and cover. Let soak for about 15 minutes, then remove the anise and chiles, and discard them. Mix the remaining ingredients into the infusion, and set aside. (Do this before you start cooking the fried rice.)

1 tablespoon duck fat or mild vegetable oil
the above-mentioned duck breasts

Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck breasts, and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Turn them over, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. The shorter times will produce quite rare duck, the longer times medium-rare duck. When they are done, remove them to a plate to rest for 4 or 5 minutes.

Keep the skillet over the flame, but reduce the heat to medium-low. Give the sauce ingredients a final stir to make sure the arrowroot is well dissolved, then pour it into the pan. Stir well. It should cook up and thicken in just a minute or so.

Finish the dish by arranging the duck breasts on or next to the fried rice, and pouring the sauce over them. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Apple Snow with Custard.

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