I guess, i have never ever spent that much time with one meal in my life. First i thought lets do this, because the christmas must be really special and once in a year and blablabla… after the ideas just came across my mind during the weeks while Christmas was coming closer and closer… i ended up not to give a sh*t about this special time anymore (maybe cause this period not that easy, if u are totally alone by yourself, far away from your family and people who u love and miss, and knowing that u have to be f*cking happy spending money for unnecessary presents … ) but pay more and more attention to my dishes. I read lots of really nice books about cool restaurant from all over the world nowadays and picked up a few great ideas to marry with my crazy ones… hope i succeed…
My main ingredient is the duck. I know i know – we already had a funny `ducktales` post with coffee, liver and rose… but what can we do? We love this little bird – its really special for me cause poultry, but has got dark meat and strong flavour, not boring like goose, chicken or turkey… dont even want to mention the difference between their prices.
So my starter and my main course is based on this meat playing with different textures and little surprises but still trying to keep it in a `winter feeling` style. My prep started 5 weeks ago. Yes, honestly, more than a month ago i started to cure one beautiful breast (idea came from my restaurant, we had the `duck ham` on the special christmas menu) to make a homemade `prosciutto`, which is just like a dream and kind of easy, need nothing else but patience. Get your meat, wash, dry and cure for a day in rock salt. After 24 hours, the texture of your meat should be much more firm, needs a good wash, dry and roll it in white pepper (u can play with other spices obviously, i smashed some star anise), get a nice clean muslin, wrap it carefully and hang it in a dry environment. After this u can check it every week with pushing between your fingers – after 3weeks, kind of medium rare (which is not true, cause the first day in salt did all the job, by the time, the duck just gonna lose more and more moisture), after 5 weeks dried out totally. So this job has done. The second element is a rich poached duck-egg yolk with the natural sweetness, goes heavenly with the salty dry ham. I put the organic eggs in 65 degrees waterbath for 35-40 minutes, after to stop the cooking place them in icing water. Serving just the yolk, discard the runny white part. Ok, lets see the third duck in this dish… its basically a sauce from liver and heart with lots of love. Nice chopped shallots, garlic, apple juice and red wine. To give an extra winter kick, i confit some apple balls in Douglas-fir infused olive oil and made a nice dressing of it. Voila…the starter just done. Decorate with a few spherification balls (spicey red wine and apple reduction – just like the sauce) – which is a long story and lots of chemicals. Ask for more questions, dont want to make u bored with all my molecular gastronomy bullshit stuff… So u can just ignore the `caviars` :)
The main course started one month ago. In Hungary we love to make and use Sauerkraut, which is nothing but fermented or pickled cabbage – but i didnt use this. I thought to try something else, so i incited some finely shredded leeks to ferment. U just need to put your veg in an airtight container with salt, pepper, bayleaf, carraway seeds (u can use whatever, these are just the traditional spices) and thats it. Better to leave it in a warm but cold place ( not in the fridge ) and wait. The miracle happened. I did it – the lacto-fermentation did happen, however, it wasn`t that strong, cause the leek has got a really powerful onion-flavour. Thats the reason, why i was thinking, that my fermented baby and the taste of sweet potato could be a perfect match – sweet and sour together. I layered down my thinly sliced potatoes (i could manage to cut off a piece of my finger as well, but because we are too far to being vegeterians, it wasnt a big deal :)) and the leeks – before i was making a yummy duck stock, at that time i cleared it and was reducing, so i could fill up almost full the terrine mould to cover all the layers and chucked it in the oven.
Part of the garnish ready, the carbohydrate one – but as always, we need something green on the plate, and i fed up with the stupid parsley leaf on the top or some bizarre tasteless green `herb oil` around the plate. Its winter time, so i decide to use the `nightmare of the childhood` Brussel sprout. I like the shape of this baby cabbage ball, it keeps the beautiful green color after blanching and has got a nice peppery aftertaste – so just cool. To play with it a bit, i used the skin of our bird to make a `duck crackling`, after i made a mousse of it and finally filled the little balls with this heavy duck-cream. Funny and yummy.
We can deal with the main meat element now. I had a whole bird at the beggining – by this time i used almost every part of it – just as we hungarians do all the time, nothing goes to the bin. I preped the duck 4 days before, a broke down into pieces and the royal breast part got a really tasty orange marinade from fresh orange, marmalade, Grand Marnier and olive oil. U always need to make small cuts on the thick skin of a duck, cause its too fatty and it helps to get rid of all the fat during cooking, and also get the flavours from your marinade. So it was resting in this `dreambath` for 4 days till the last minute, when i was searing in a really hot pan (u dont need even a drop of oil or butter – because of the natural fat gonna come out immediately) and gave a nice golden color outside. Chucked in the oven for 13 minutes – just because non of my guests liked the bloody pink meat – otherwise its not more than 8-10 minutes. After leave to rest a bit – u just have time to make the sauce using the leftover marinade, more veg if u want, some duck stock, red wine and butter. Perfect. And its done. Oh yes, i made a root veg puree as well using all the leftover `greens` from the stocks and pressed potato, added a bit of extra love (honey, oyster sauce, garlic, sesame oil – everything for Mr. Umami) and i could use as a glue, to stick my little Brussels sprouts on the plate at serving time. Voila. Buon apetit!
Last but not least the pudding… which was not a real dessert in my point of view, just because i have really sweet palette. But Marty was working like a donkey in the last few days – thats the only reason for the `lack of pictures`, she had only one free night all way through at Christmas – and this special night, she was running home, sh*t tired poor girl, nobody can expect her to start taking pictures and document every little shitty dots i was making.
This last course is for her happiness: a deconstructed cheescake with a beautiful bottle of our favourite champagne – Blanc de Blancs Ruinart…
And i mean the deconstructed part. I bought a whole brie cheese long time ago and cut half, so i could fill in with real black truffles and marinated the whole cheese in truffle oil in an airtight container for 3 weeks. I baked a simple pate sable – sweet pastry base – to hold the `cake`. After i got some good quality white chocolate, melted, add a bit of * l * o * v * e * and cover the little truffled hedgehog which was sitting on the top of the pastry. Left in the fridge giving time to the choc to set. I was dealing with some homemade sultanas as well, after i create a sticky honey-wine sauce goes with the cheese with my grapes. I think thats it, that was all.
Although i made an icecream to finish the meal, all of us was so stuffed, i couldn`t even come up with the idea of opening the freezer. So next time. But not next Christmas.