Friday, February 27, 2015

Roast Duck with Chestnut Peach Stuffing and Tangerine Cognac Sauce

     A Great Winter Season Duck Recipe!
     Duck has always been a favorite meal ever since I was a kid.  Every time that I dined in a fancy restaurant with the parents, I usually ordered duck or trout.  Duck used to be cheap back in those days and this was good because us kids were stuck with ordering dinner according to the lowest numbers on the right hand side of the menu.
     Duck recipes have gotten very advanced since those days.  Perfection seared duck breast cooked to a medium temperature has been popular in recent years.  Rendered Duck Confit has bade a return in recent years, because so many chefs only offer a solitary duck breast as a full entrée.  Duck legs are selling cheap as a result.

     Honestly, I never purchase duck parts.  That is like asking to be taken to the cleaners when figuring food cost.  Purchasing whole duck is the best deal.  The whole duck can be broken down into sections, but this would bring tears to classic duck connoirsseur's eye.  Roasted whole duck was and always will be the king of the hill.
     Forget about finding a roast half duck or a roast whole duck at the petite portion health cuisine restaurants.  Full portion roast duck can only be found at classic cuisine restaurants.  Those who relish the thought of roast duck with a pleasant fruit sauce on a winter evening know exactly where to find this classic specialty.  

     Bigarade Sauce is the classic sauce for roast duck.  The problem is that Mediterranean Green Bigarade Oranges (Green Seville Oranges) are not commonly available.  Bigarade Sauce is made with Green Bitter Bigarade Orange.  Ripe Seville Oranges are better used for l'Range Sauce.
     The tangerine cognac sauce in this recipe is made like a Bigarade Sauce Recipe.  The sauce is very rich with reduced duck broth that is infused with cognac.  The tangerine flavor is much stronger in the sauce than what using regular oranges can achieve.  Tangerine Cognac Sauce has a flavor that roast duck connoisseurs really like!

     There is a trick to preparing today's roasted boneless stuffed duck.  Either a whole duck or a half of a duck can be prepared in this manner.  It is best to debone the duck after it is about 3/4's completely cooked.  This reduces shrinkage and it creates more flavor.  The duck will also retain its natural shape.  Care has to be taken to not tear the skin, but there is a method to the madness.
     Boneless roasted duck is always best for a stuffed duck recipe.  Roast unstuffed duck is always served table side and the captain always carves the duck for the customer.  A stuffed roasted boneless duck half can be served America fine dining style on a plate with accompaniments on the side.
     Chestnut and fruit stuffings for duck are popular in Europe and the Allegheny Mountain Range region.  Chestnut and Peach Stuffing is a nice as it gets.  The rich peach flavor is complimented by the sharp tangerine citrus flavor.  Today's Roast Duck with Chestnut Peach Stuffing and Tangerine Cognac Sauce.    
     *This entire recipe page is written for one half of a duck.
     One whole duck can be roasted for two orders of this entrée or a half of a duck can be roasted for one.   
     If a whole duck for two guests is planned, then double the volume of the stuffing and sauce recipes.  Wait to split the whole duck after roasting too.

     Roast Duck Half:
     Step 1:  Split 1 whole duck in half lengthwise through the breast bone and adjacent to the back bone.  (Save the other duck half for another recipe.)
     Trim off the excess fat, the excess tail skin flap, the tail and cut the wing tips off.
     Step 2:  Season the duck with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 pinches of thyme leaves on the duck.
     Place the duck half on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Place the duck trimmings (wings, neck, back, giblets and tail) on the pan too.  (The roasted duck scrap pieces will be used later to make the sauce.)
     Step 3:  Place the duck in a 375ºF oven.
     Roast the duck, till it is a little bit more than 3/4 fully cooked.  (A medium well center temperature of about 135º is fine.)
     Step 4:  Allow the duck to completely cool. 
     Chill the duck to about 45ºF, to firm the meat and to retain the moisture in the meat.
     *In the mean time, the stuffing can be made!

     Chestnut Peach Stuffing:
     Depending on the size of the duck, this recipe may yield a little bit extra stuffing.
     The mirepoix does not need to be sautéed for this recipe.  The milder the flavor the better.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of small chopped celery in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 6 to 8 coarsely chopped roasted shelled chestnuts.
     Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese 5 spice powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped fresh peeled firm textured peach.
     Simmer the ingredients, till the peach starts to become tender.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 5:  Cut some stale French bread into small cube shapes.  (About 1 1/2 cups is plenty.)
     Place the bread cubes in a mixing bowl.
     Step 6:  Use a slotted spoon to remove the solid ingredients from the broth in the sauce pot.
     Add the solid ingredients to the bread in the mixing bowl.
     Step 7:  Add just enough of the broth from the sauce pot to moisten the bread, while gently tossing the mixture.  Only a few tablespoons of broth are needed.
     Add 1 teaspoon of melted butter while tossing.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons whisked raw egg while gently folding the stuffing ingredients together.
     Chill the stuffing till it is needed.
     Deboning the Roasted Duck Half:
     If serving a whole duck for two, now is the time to split the duck in half.
     It is very important to not damage the duck skin or slice into the meat by mistake.  Try not to pull the meat away from the skin or the skin will burn in the oven when the duck is roasted a second time.  
     Be sure to save the bones and trimming for making the duck broth later in the recipe!
     Now that the partially roasted duck half is cooled down, its time to debone the duck, without losing any meat jus! 
     Step 1:  Use your fingers to remove all the bones from the duck,
     Start by sliding fingers between the meat and bones.  The  rib cage and back bone is a good place to start.  Those bones are the easiest to remove.
     *In the next few steps, any bones that will not easily pull free, will have to be cut free with poultry shears or a paring knife.
     Step 2:  Pull the half wishbone out.
     Step 3:  Leave the leg bone intact, but remove the thigh bone.  Use a paring knife or shears to cut through the knee joint cartilage.
     Use a paring knife to cut along each side of the thigh bone, with the blade gliding against the bone.  Then cut underneath the thigh bone to ease removal.
     Step 4:  It is tricky to remove leg bone without tearing the skin, but it can be done.  Go for it if the skin is firmly attached to the leg meat.
     Just pull on the knee end of the bone, while twisting the bone, till the bone glides out.
     Step 5:  Clip the outside end of the drumette wing bone off, before pulling that bone out, so the skin does not tear.
     Use a sharp paring knife to cut through any remaining cartilage that is attached the duck meat near the shoulder joint.
     Grab the shoulder end of the drumette and pull it out just like the leg bone.
     Step 6:  Refrigerate the deboned duck half, till the sauce is finished.
     Duck Broth:
     Step 1:  Place the roasted duck trimmings and the roasted duck bones in a sauce pot.
     Step 2:  Deglaze the roasting pan over a burner set to low heat with a little bit of water.
     Add the pan juices to the broth pot.
     Step 3:  Add enough water to the sauce pot, so the bones are covered with an extra 1" of water.
     Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the broth for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Only add water if the liquid level drops below the bones.
     Skim off the grease as the broth simmers.  (The duck grease can be saved to flavor vegetables!)
     Step 5:  Pour the duck broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Discard the bones.
     Skim off any excess grease.
     Tangerine Cognac Duck Sauce: 
     No sugar is used in this sauce!  The sauce is enriched with multiple reductions.  Cornstarch slurry is used to thicken the final reduction.  
     Straining this sauce is an option.  The bits of shallot add character.
     Step 1:  Place the sauce pot of duck broth over medium heat.
     Simmer and reduce the duck broth, till it becomes very rich.  (There should be about 1 1/2 cups of rich duck broth in the pot after reducing.)
     Step 2:  Add 1 finely minced small shallot.
     Add 1 teaspoon and of minced ginger.
     Add 1 cup of cognac.
     Simmer and reduce, till 1 1/2 cups remain.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of fresh squeezed tangerine juice.
     Simmer and reduce, till 1 1/2 cups remain.
     Step 4:  Use a fluting tool to cut about 8 to 10 long thin strips of tangerine zest.
     Add the zest to the sauce.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a very thin glacé sauce consisistence.  (About 3/4 cup to 1 cup in volume.)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 6:  Thicken the sauce with corn starch and cold water slurry while stirring.  (Do not add too much cornstarch slurry!  The sauce should have a thin consistency that evenly glazes a spoon.)
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Add a splash of tangerine juice or water if the sauce becomes too thick.

     Roast Duck with Chestnut Peach Stuffing and Tangerine Cognac Sauce:
     Step 1:  Lightly brush a small roasting pan with vegetable oil.
     Place a generous mound of the chestnut peach stuffing on the pan.
     Shape the stuffing so it is the same contour as the boneless duck.
     Step 2:  Place the boneless half of a duck over the stuffing.
     Gently press the duck against the stuffing, so the contours look natural.
     *If the amount of stuffing is too much, use a small spoon to scrape out any excess stuffing before baking. 
     Step 3:  Brush the duck with a little bit of the tangerine cognac sauce, so it is very lightly glazed.
     Step 4:  Roast the stuffed boneless duck in a 375º degree oven, till it is fully cooked and till the stuffing reaches a center temperature of 165ºF for 15 seconds.  The duck skin should be dark golden brown and almost crisp.  (Cooking till the sin is extra crispy is an option, but the meat will not be as moist.)
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.

     Use a large spatula to transfer the stuffed duck to a serving plate.  If the stuffing comes loose on the plate, then pack back against the duck.
     Spoon tangerine cognac sauce over the stuffed duck and onto the plate.  Try to place the tangerine zest strips on the duck.
     Garnish the plate with thin bias slice green onion top slivers.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice on the side.
     This is a nice duck recipe that is not overly difficult to make.  It just takes time and the effort is well worth it!  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Filetto Mignon Casanova

     A Classic Italian Valentines Day Entrée 
     Filetto Mignon Casanova is a recipe that I learned during my first Italian restaurant apprenticeship.  Very few chefs know about this recipe and many of those who did have simply forgotten about this Italian steak entrée altogether.   
     Valentines Day is the best time to break out old classic romantic recipes.  Chateaubriand, Veal Princess, Porterhouse For Two and Blue Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail are some of the most popular Valentines Day entrées.  These items exude indulgence during a a long romantic evening of sipping wine, which reaches a crescendo when fine desserts are served.
      Two cuisines that offer the finest classic romantic food are French and Italian.  French and Italian chefs simply go off the end of the scale when designing a Valentines Day menu.  Even if the menu is 5 special du jour offerings at a café, each item is designed for guests that want to spend one special evening intertwining and dining the night away.  

     Filetto Mignon Casanova is one of the greatest Valentines Day entrées that I have ever seen.  While apprenticing, a great Italian chef that ran this Valentines Day special du jour on a special menu and he called every cook in the kitchen over to show how the steak entrée was supposed to be made.  The chef taught many special cooking technique nuances while he was cooking the example of Filetto Mignon Casanova for us cooks to see.  
     During the cooking demonstration the chef taught the little details that really make the difference between a simple meal and a romantic entrée.  Basically, the romantic cuisine lesson that the Italian chef taught was how tradition, class, perfection and indulgent tasteful ingredients all add up to an irresistible romantic entrée that is perfect for Valentines Day. 

     Filetto Mignon Casanova is as indulgent as it gets!  The filet mignon steak has to weigh at least 8 ounces and it has to be USDA Prime Grade Beef, which is the best.  The filet mignon is stuffed with oysters and aromatic herbs, then wrapped with pancetta.  The finished steak is sauced with a red wine and truffle infused Italian Brown Sauce (classic demi glacé).  Shaved white truffle is traditional, but black truffle is a good choice too.   
     Indulgent romantic classic cuisine is where its at on Valentines Day.  There are fancy recipes that are designed to please the ladies, then there are bold recipes that are designed to please the men.  Filetto Mignon Casanova is designed to put the letter "M" in the word "Machismo" in a big way!  Filetto Mignon Casanova is romantic masculine Valentines Day entrée that is designed for the manly man!    

     Filetto di manzo Casanova is named after one of the greatest lovers of all time.  Giacomo Casanova!  Giacomo Casanova was a famous adventurer and painter from Venice, Italy.  Casanova was an infamous womanizer and he was the king of the art of seduction!  Besides his autobiography, many plays, operas, movies and books have been written about the greatest lover of all time, Giacomo Casanova.  
      The origins of the Filetto Mignon Casanova recipe are sketchy.  Before I originally published this recipe by the name "Filetto di manzo Casanova" 3 years ago, there was no information to be found on the internet at all.  From what I can gather, this is a New York Italian fine dining restaurant recipe that probably originated in Italy at least 50 years ago.  The name of the Italian chef that created the Filetto Mignon Casanova entrée is unknown.  Whoever the Italian chef was, he surely deserves a medal for creating one of the finest Valentines Day recipes of them all!

     Italian Brown Sauce:  
     Italian Brown Sauce is Classic Demi Glace.  There is Standard Demi Glace and Classic Demi Glace in French cuisine.  Standard Demi Glace is made with 1/2 Glacé Viande + 1/2 Sauce Espagnole, then it is reduced to the proper consistency.  
     Classic Demi Glace is a perfect Sauce Espagnole that is reduced to perfection.  This means that the beef stock is thickened with brown roux to a very thin consistency, then it is reduced to a Demi Glace consistency and color.  No addition of Glacé Viande is necessary.  Classic Demi Glace is very rich as is.  Classic Demi Glace is basically made the same way that Italian Brown Sauce is made.  
     *To make Classic Demi Glace, follow the link below.  Only add enough brown roux to the beef stock, so the consistency is very thin, then simmer and reduce the sauce till it can glaze a spoon.  
     * If following a recipe is easier to do, then click on the link below and follow the steps in the printed recipe that are necessary for making the Standard Demi Glace.  A Standard Demi Glace can be used as Italian Brown Sauce too, but many steps can be saved by making Classic Demi Glace!  
     Glace Viandé:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Glacé Viande

     Demi Glace:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée!

     Filetto Mignon Casanova Preparation:   
     The filet mignon steak should be prepared ahead of time, so the meat can be chilled before cooking.  Because a pocket is cut in the filet, the filet will cook quickly, just like two tornados of beef filet.  If the meat is chilled after stuffing, then it will be easier to cook the steak to a rare to medium rare finish temperature.  
     This is a Valentines Day recipe so the choice of beef grade should be top notch.  I chose the best grade of beef for the photo example above.  USDA Prime Grade Beef is the best grade of beef.  Prime Grade Beef costs twice as much as USDA Choice Grade Beef, but the superior quality is well worth the price.  
     Step 1:  Select an 8 ounce USDA Prime Grade Beef filet mignon steak at a good butcher shop. 
     Step 2:  Use a boning knife to cut a pocket into the side of the steak.  The mouth of the pocket should be about 1 1/2" wide.  The pocket inside the steak should be just large enough for a sautéed oyster to fit into.
     Step 3:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the garlic becomes a light golden color and the shallots turn clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 1 large shucked oyster.  (The size of the raw oyster should equal the volume of about 3 tablespoons.)
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté the oyster, till it is halfway cooked.
     Step 5:  Add 2 large fresh basil leaves.
     Add 1 small pinch of oregano.
     Sauté the oyster, till it is fully cooked and the basil leaves are wilted yet still green.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the sauteed oyster and basil leaves on a dish and let them cool.
     Step 7:  Line the pocket that is cut in the side of the filet mignon steak with the two wilted basil leaves.
     Gently slide and press the sautéed oyster into the pocket.
     Fold the ends of basil leaf ends over the oyster.
     Gently press the edge of the pocket shut.
     Step 8:  Cut 2 thin strips of pancetta.  The pancetta strips should look like bacon strips.  (If no whole pancetta is available, then dry cured bacon is okay for this recipe.)
     Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Gently cook the pancetta strips like bacon for 2 or 3 minutes, till the fat turns clear and the strips are just blanched.  Do not brown the pancetta strips!  (Blanching the pancetta or bacon strips will make it easier to brown the pancetta or bacon, when the filet is roasted.) 
     Remove the blanched pancetta from the pan and set it aside to cool.
     Step 9:  Wrap the pancetta strips around the sides of the filet mignon steak and be sure that the mouth of the pocket is covered.
     Use butcher's twine to truss the pancetta strips onto the steak.  2 to 3 evenly spaced wraps of butcher's twine should hold the pancetta in place.
     Step 10:  Season the top and bottom of the oyster stuffed filet mignon steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Place the filet on a dish and chill it in a refrigerator till the meat reaches a temperature of about 45ºF.

     Vino Rossa Trufa Salsa Bruna:
     Italian Brown Sauce with Red Wine and Truffles!  This recipe yields a little extra sauce.
     Italian White Truffles are best for this recipe.  Black Truffle can be substituted.  If no truffles are available at all, fresh porcini or reconstituted dried porcini can be substituted.
     A truffle slicer is necessary for shaving truffles.
     *Wait to make the red wine and truffle demi glace sauce, till just before starting to cook the filet steak!
     Step 1:  Combine 1/3 cup of dry red wine with 1/2 cup of Classic Demi Glace (or Standard Demi Glace) in a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat the back of a spoon.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 8 to 12 paper thin slices of Italian White Truffle.  (About 1/2 tablespoon)
     Do not stir after adding the shaved truffle.   
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  If the sauce becomes too thick, then add a small splash of beef stock or broth.

     Finishing The Filetto Mignon Casanova:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Place the stuffed filet mignon steak in the pan.
     Sear the top and bottom of the steak, till it is browned.
     Step 2:  Turn the steak on its side and cook the pancetta coating, till it just starts to brown.  Be sure to roll the steak in the pan every 30 seconds or so, till the pancetta is lightly browned around the entire steak.
     Set the steak flat in the pan and place the pan in a 450ºF oven.
     Flip the steak once, after is is cooked halfway to the preferred finish temperature.
     Finish roasting the stuffed filet mignon steak.  (A medium rare to medium finish temperature is best for this recipe.)
     Step 3:  Place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to rest for 1 or 2 minutes.
     Step 1:  Cut the butcher's twine on the steak.
     Carefully remove the butcher's twine and leave the pancetta attached to the steak.
     Step 2:  Spoon a small amount of the Vino Rossa Salsa Bruna on the center of a plate.
     Place the Filetto Mignon Casanova on the sauce.
     Spoon a portion of the sauce over the steak.
     Step 3:  Serve with a vegetable and potato of your choice.  
     * The Filetto Mignon Casanova in the pictures was served with buttered seasoned olivette potatoes and a buttered seasoned haricot bean bundle that was tied with a blanched green onion top.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Filetto Mignon Casanova is a perfect choice for Valentines Day!  The flavor combination of sautéed oyster stuffed filet mignon may be difficult to imagine, but the oyster adds an aromatic sea breeze flavor.  The Vino Rossa Trufa Salsa Bruna is rich tasting beyond belief!