Everything Is Just Ducky

Whole steam-roasted garlic

Whole steam-roasted garlic

Okay, not really. This month my Charcutepalooza projects have been all about how good food –dreaming it up, cooking it, talking about it with friends, sharing it with friends and family, and (not least) eating it– sustains the spirit as well as the belly during some less than fabulous times. Have I mentioned that by the end of December I will have moved FOUR times in less than a year? I know I’ve cried & moaned about this in previous posts, but this month and the most recent move were especially brutal, and the sheer uplifting and nourishing power of food was profoundly evident. Food had a big job to do, and it came through like a champion.

I started by making two versions of rillettes. The first was a classic French pork rillettes, and for guidance I looked to Jane Grigson’s Charcuterie And French Pork Cookery as well as Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

On the left is the pot with venison & pork belly rillettees and on the right are traditional French rillettes

On the left is the pot with venison & pork belly rillettees and on the right are traditional French rillettes, each cooling in its own fragrant bath of broth and fat

The second was inspired by Brad Farmerie’s recipe for pork rillettes with an Asian twist which was published in the excellent Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers by Marissa Guggiana. I tweaked the recipe in that I used a blend of venison (thank you Larry) and pork belly; otherwise I was pretty faithful to Brad’s recipe.

Rillettes packed into 8oz widemouth jars before cooling in the 'fridge and before being sealed under 1/8 inch of warmed lard

Rillettes packed into eight-ounce wide-mouth jars before cooling in the 'fridge, and before being sealed under an eighth of an inch of warmed pork lard which I'd rendered the day before

I’d had small nibbles of each of the rillettes while I was cooking them, but I really wanted to taste them properly on freshly baked bread with various pickles, so I baked a loaf, distracted myself with chores until the bread had cooled, and then dug in:

Super-seedy bread, jars of pickles, and jars of rillettes

Super-seedy bread, jars of pickles, and jars of rillettes. Must taste now!

Oh, hey, what a surprise: I love my rillettes :-)  I liked them with this year’s cornichons:

A slice of bread with rillettes and slices of cornichon pickle

A slice of bread with rillettes and slices of cornichon pickle

..and I loved ‘em with this spring’s pickled ramps:

A slice of bread with rillettes and pickled ramps I made this spring

A slice of bread with rillettes and pickled ramps I made this spring

I tried the French rillettes with cornichons and the venison rillettes with ramps, and then I tried the venison ones with cornichons, and the French rillettes with ramps, and I determined that there didn’t seem to be a bad-tasting combination in the bunch.

Thankfully I made the rillettes a little week ago, because my second project was fairly involved and demanding: a roasted roulade of duck with lentils and mixed boiled & buttered beans from this summer’s massive bean harvest. I thought I might have served it yesterday to mom & Carl, but ended up breaking the tasks up over three days and serving it today, deadline-day, once again right up to the wire!

I really enjoy cooking with duck, particularly the full-utilization aspects. Thrift at its tastiest.

Breaking down the duck: skin off in one piece, breasts removed & diced, and the carcass trimmed of every morsel of meat, all sinews & tough bits set aside with the carcass, wing tips, neck, and gizzards for making stock. All fat and skin not part of the large rectangle of skin was reserved for rendering, and the liver was added to the forcemeat scraps.

Breaking down the duck: skin off in one piece, breasts removed & diced, and the carcass trimmed of every morsel of meat, all sinews & tough bits set aside with the carcass, wing tips, neck, and gizzards for making stock. All fat and skin not part of the large rectangle of skin was reserved for rendering, and the liver was added to the forcemeat scraps.

Here is the skin before it was frozen flat and trimmed of yet more fat:

The whole duck skin will be the outer wrapping for the finished roulade. Here it is before freezing & trimming

The whole duck skin will be the outer wrapping for the finished roulade

The breast meat was cut into large dice and browned quickly in a very hot pan:

Frying the duck breast meat

Frying the duck breast meat

I made a rich and delicious-smelling reduction of shallots, the fond from frying the duck breast, and a cup of Calvados:

Reduced to a loose paste, and smelled fantastic

Reduced to a loose paste, and smelling fantastic

I should note that the method for steam-roasting garlic to make garlic paste is brilliant; it works much better than dry-roasting, and produced a super-creamy garlic-y paste. The photo at the top of the page shows a half-dozen heads of garlic after steam-roasting and before slicing and squeezing.

I prepped aromatics and herbs for the bed upon which the roulade would rest while roasting. This photograph shows them before they were braised in a whole lot of butter:

Aromatics and herbs await braising in butter

Aromatics and herbs await braising in butter

We had a bit of warm sun this morning, and it was a pleasure to sit half-blinded and cozy whilst shelling these outstanding pistachio nut-meats:

These are the sweetest and most pistachio-y pistachios I've been able to buy in years, and so green!

These are the sweetest and most pistachio-y pistachios I've been able to buy in years, and so green!

Next was to grind the cold bits of cleaned duck meat, along with some fatty pork and the duck liver:

Grinding the forcemeat for the roulade

Grinding the forcemeat for the roulade

To the ground forcemeat I added the shallot reduction, the salt and pepper, garlic paste, and herbs. I mixed this by hand and folded in the cooled diced duck-breast meat, the pistachios as well as some roughly chopped dried cherries. I would have liked to add some truffle peelings, but I have never had a truffle to cook with.. yet! Still, even without the truffle, the forcemeat looks (and tastes) delicious –even before roasting:

The ground duck and pork with a smattering of chopped pistachios and cherries

The ground duck and pork with a smattering of chopped pistachios and cherries

After trimming the inside of the duck skin of excess bits of fat and tissue, I mounded the forcemeat down the middle, wrapped the skin around the filling and tied it up neatly:

The roulade all bound and ready to roast after an hour or two in the 'fridge to dry the skin a bit

The roulade all bound and ready to roast after an hour or two in the 'fridge to dry the skin a bit

Once mom & Carl arrived, I placed the roulade on its bed of butter-braised aromats & herbs, gave it a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper, and placed it in the oven to roast for around an hour. I basted it every 15 or 20 minutes with the butter from the roasting pan, and it kept on getting more glossy and golden. Mm!

I also made a pot of lentils with carrots, onions, leeks, thyme, and lots of fresh parsley added at the end:

French lentils simmering with aromatic veggies & herbs

French lentils simmering with aromatic veggies & herbs a lá Mr. Henderson

Carl finished putting my spare tire on my truck (thank goodness for spare tires) (and for Carl!) in the cold and rainy dark, and when he was settled on the sofa,  dry-ish and warm, I brought out a sliced-up baguette:

Really good baguette I made this morning

Really good baguette I made this morning

..and the two flavors of rillettes accompanied by cornichons and ramps I pickled this spring:

Tasty bits to start with

Tasty bits to start our meal

Soon the roulade was roasted and rested, and it was really pretty, and very very good to eat:

Roasted roulade of duck on a bed of French lentils

Roasted roulade of duck on a bed of French lentils

..along with some green and yellow beans from the Great Bean Harvest of 2011, drizzled with a bit of the duck roasting butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper:

A plateful of happy

A plateful of happy

Once again, good charcuterie saves the day.

P.S. Check out this charcuterie kismet: So, my uncle Stephen mentioned on a recent QI that Columbo was, in his opinion, the greatest-ever TV detective. I’ve liked Peter Falk ever since I saw him play himself in that great Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire, but I’d never actually seen a Columbo episode. So I’ve been watching the the old shows, and today when I working on my roulade, I was watching Season 7 Episode 2 called Murder Under Glass, and the whole episode was about chefs and cooking and suddenly there was a galantine right there onscreen and Columbo was, like, ecstatic about it! That was amazing.

About mosaica

Ugly & fabulous, warm & obsessive, brilliant & dorkmeisterish: striving to be a warrior in her little context.
This entry was posted in alternatively sourced meat, charcuterie, duck, liver, nose-to-tail, pork, venison and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Everything Is Just Ducky

  1. Mr Belm says:

    Nicely done! Your roulade looked a lot nicer than mine.

    • mosaica says:

      Thank you! I like how you garnished yours. Btw, I’ll prep in your kitchen ANYtime! Well, anytime after I’m moved back into my home and kinda settled and feeling human again.. er, so, maybe next summer ;-)

  2. kate hill says:

    as usual, Iliana… lovely and mouthwatering. brava!

    • mosaica says:

      Merci, Kate! Isn’t it a gift to have some intricate cooking and good flavor to distract from life’s lesser and greater hardships, just built right into everyday life? And sharing it with friends or family –it just makes that much more pleasing.

  3. How amazingly gorgeous! I’d try to put a spare tire on if this is what it’s worth. And for the record, I’m a big Columbo fan! Never saw that episode though…

    • mosaica says:

      Oh, thanks very much :-) I’m also really enjoying getting cozy with Columbo as I cook, and the episode with the galantine was just icing on the cake.

  4. Commiserations regarding your multiple moves. I’ll be moving twice in 12 months and that is more than enough for me!! I will also get by with charcuterie and preserved items.
    I love the idea of putting pistachios in the roulade mix – I imagine that would give it a lovely texture as well as flavour.
    And regarding TV detectives, Columbo is certainly a favourite in my household. Although my absolute favourite detective would have to be Nero Wolfe, of course :)

    • mosaica says:

      Thank you for the compassion :-) Not only do the preserved foods we make bring deliciousness and perhaps fond recollections during rough times, but the continuity I feel via the processes of cooking help to still the rocking of my boat, and gentle the journey a bit.

      The pistachios were really good in the roulade –wait ’til you see the next nutty thing I’m planning ;-)

      Was any good TV or film made based on Nero Wolfe, or was he solely in books?

      • Sorry only just saw this, apologies for the late reply! I’m a fan of the 2001 A&E “A Nero Wolfe mystery” with Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe and Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin. They are very faithful to the books but unfortunately they only made 2 seasons before it was cancelled.

  5. Kelly says:

    Your roulade was beautiful — well done! And we’re so impressed that you took on so many projects for last month’s challenge — especially along with moving! Good luck settling in. At least cooking can help make a new place feel more like home…

    • mosaica says:

      Thanks, Kelly! I still have one more move to go, at the end of December, but that should be the last one for a while, unless I marry into bags of money or publish a best-seller, in which case I’ll be okay with moving into my forever-dream-home ;-)

      But as I’ve said, it’s amazing how the daily routines of cooking good food can smooth the rough edges of even the most terrible of times. And it doesn’t even need to be fancy: I’ve been enjoying breakfasts lately of simple toast with home-made (easy-peasy) hazelnut butter and lemon marmalade. With tea: scrumptious and steadying, all at once!

  6. vtbee says:

    oh, iliana, you really must write a book and illustrate it too! i will happily play the role of taste tester!!

    • mosaica says:

      Thanks, you spiffy blossom you :-) I’ve been having a good old think about those other ideas you suggested at market, and I love the way it’s all getting fleshed out in my imagination. Now to see if I can make it actually happen.

  7. blorgie1 says:

    Hey M maybe Columbo is your uncle too!
    My Dad once complained to me that he’d stopped buying pistachios because he’d never had a good one. They were always old and had turned green. Bless him.

  8. Brian says:

    I made some Rilettes a while back, heavily salted the pork, simmered it for 6 hours in fresh made pork stock and duck fat, then after breaking it all apart, i put it in little ball jars, filled the jar with the fatty brothy liquid. I tossed it into a water bath for 2 hours, let it sit overnight on the counter and then put them in the fridge were they’ve been.

    We only ate them in the first month I made them.

    I am wondering if they would still be good now? Its probably been 2-3 months since I made them, there’s a few jars in the fridge that I’d love to eat. As I mentioned, these were canned with the water bath method (as per the directions in the book) and not with a pressure canner. I just can’t decide if they would be safe to eat or not.

    Thoughts?

  9. mosaica says:

    Hello Brian -I’ve mixed responses to eating food that’s been around for a while. On the one hand, I’m a bit of a germophile by nature and a lover of fermentation of all sorts, but then there are factors like botulism which I’m wary of. So I try to be sensible, and err on the side of caution.

    In this case, while I *feel* that you should be fine, I’ve neither the experience nor the specific knowledge to answer you one way or the other. Wish I could be of more help.

    I’m reminded that I have a little jar of rillons (little chunks of pork confit) in the back of my fridge. I’ll take a gander, give a sniff, and if they smell good, I will crisp them up in a frying pan and eat them with bread & pickles. I made these less than a year ago, they’re preserved under lard, and they’ve been refrigerated. Remember too that regular old rillettes and rillons and other similar potted meats were meant to be good for “several months” in a cool larder or cellar, so in a fridge, maybe even better.

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