WFD? Maple-Pepper Glazed Duck Legs

Maple-Pepper Glazed Duck Legs with Smashed Sweet Potato and Braised Bok Choy

These duck legs were fabulous after I brined them for several hours, then roasted and glazed them with a sweet peppery maple glaze.

Brining is an excellent way to add flavour and tenderness to meat that tend to be on the tough side. It’s nothing complicated; it merely involves soaking the meat in a salt-sugar solution for several hours prior to cooking, resulting in a piece of meat that will retain more moisture during the cooking process, thus making for a juicier dish!

Flavors may be added to the brine as the cook wishes, such as spices, beers, apple cider, juniper berries and maple, further infusing the meat with goodness!

I’ve only just started experimenting with brines, but we loved these duck legs the other night so much, I am passing along my recipes.

Roasted Duck Legs with Maple-Black Pepper Glaze

4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat, washed and patted dry.
1 recipe Spiced Brine
Maple and Black Pepper Glaze (recipes follow)

Place duck legs in a water tight container (or hefty Ziplock bag) and pour enough brine over to cover. Seal container and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Remove legs from brine, rinse under cold running water and pat dry.
Place in a small roasting pan and roast for about

45 minutes. Remove from oven and glaze with maple glaze. Return to oven and cook another 10 minutes or so, until glaze is bubbly and golden.
Remove from oven and allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

Note: Roasting time will vary depending on size of duck legs. Mine were skinny little quackers.

Spiced Brine:

4 cups water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
5 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool until quite cold. Brine is now ready for use.

Maple and Black Pepper Glaze

1 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon freshly crushed black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small heavy sauce pot and bring to a boil. Be careful! Do NOT walk away, as this molten mixture loves to boil over onto your stove, making for a big clean-up! Reduce heat and simmer on low until mixture is reduced by about 2/3’s.Cool. Set

aside for glazing duck legs.

WFD? Citrus Duck with Thyme Crêpes

What’s For Dinner? Sour Citrus Glazed Duck Breast with Watercress in a Thyme Crêpe.

This was inspired by the traditional Peking duck wrap with Mandarin pancakes and Hoisin sauce that I had a wedding last summer. This dish just kind of evolved from a few things I had on hand and turned out to be a nice fresh mouthful, transporting us momentarily away from the snow and ice.
Thanks to Bobby Flay of the Food Network for the crêpe recipe.

Sour Citrus Glazed Duck Breast
2 14-16 ounce boneless duck breast halves, rinsed and patted dry 4 Tablespoons Sour Citrus Glaze (see below) Preheat oven to 450F.

  1. Score skin of duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern and season with salt and pepper.
  1. Place breasts skin-side down in a cold skillet. Place over medium-high heat until most of the fat has rendered and the skin is dark golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Pour off fat, and turn duck breasts, meat-side down. Brush skin with citrus glaze.
  1. Place duck in oven and roast about ten minutes. (or until the thickest part reaches 125F) Brush with glaze a few times during the roasting period.

  1. Remove from oven, remove from skillet and let rest on a wire rack for ten minutes. This is important to allow the meat to reabsorb some of the juices. If you slice into it right away, you will loose flavorful jus! Cover to keep warm. Your duck is now ready for slicing.

Sour Citrus Glaze:

2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cups fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns Place the juice, garlic, fennel and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 cups. Strain the sauce into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Thyme Crêpes:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan In blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Heat a small non-stick pan over high heat. Add butter to coat. Pour 1-ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl the spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove from heat. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all the batter is gone.

Now you can add the filling and serve, or refrigerate for a later use. They also freeze well.
To Assemble:
Brush crêpe with a little citrus glaze. Add a few springs of fresh, washed watercress, several slices of duck and an orange segment. Fold crêpe and serve immediately.

WFD? Not Your Granny’s Tourtiere

I have a confession. I have never made tourtiere. I mean, I’ve never had to in all my 8 years in Quebec. I’ve always been around people who have the best tourtiere recipe that was handed down from their grand, grand, grand-mere and are more than happy to make it for me. Everyone’s recipe is different, yet each boast that theirs is the true way to make tourtiere (meat pie, to those of you who are lost.)

Being half British and half Ukrainian, I never inherited such a recipe, but give me a bag of potatoes and some flour and I can whip up a mean batch of perogies. In all my past Christmases, I have either relied on the skills of others, or nipped over to my local marché that carries amazing beef, pork, chicken, duck, or elk tourtiere, because it’s just not possible to have a Joyeux Noel without tourtiere.

However, after eight years it’s time to come up with my own recipe, my own blend of spices, my own mixture of meat, and create that perfect recipe so that I can hand it down to my great, great grandchildren. From what I have gathered, pretty much anything goes inside as long as it’s rich and flavorful: duck, foie gras, Balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, venison, potatoes, rabbit, cranberries…

I chose a traditional mix of meats-veal, pork and beef- and added a few of my own favorites that I thought would complement the meat: apples, bacon, Dijon and the freshest blend of spices I could get my hands on. The result was pretty fabulous, not bad for a first time! Although I’m not 100% sure that this is THE recipe and I’d like to keep playing around a bit more in upcoming years, this one will definitely tide us over for these holidays!

We enjoyed it with a robust Les Cranilles cotes-du-rhone, Les Vines de Vienne 2004

and that about put us over the moon..

I hope you enjoy it too, and please, hold the ketchup, ok?
Not Your Granny’s Tourtiere

Make 4- 9inch tourtieres

2 kgs. ground meat: pork, beef and veal 2 tablespoons duck or bacon fat 3 medium onions, diced 3 apples, peeled and diced 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard ¼ cup white flour 6 thick slices slab bacon, cubed 3 branches celery, diced 6 whole cloves 10 peppercorns 2 inch stick of fresh cinnamon 5 whole allspice 2 bay leaves 4 cups beef stock salt to taste Four double pie crusts
In a spice grinder, grind cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon and allspice until fine. Reserve. In a large, heavy duty pot, melt the duck fat and brown all the meat, separating it into pea-sized chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Strain into a colander and let the fat drain out while you return the pot to the stove. Add bacon and sauté lightly; add onions and celery; sauté until wilted. Return the browned meat to this mixture and to this add the ground spice mixture, the bay leaves and the beef stock. Mix well and cook on medium low heat until liquid is reduced by half; stir often. In a mixing bowl combine apples and flour until apples are well coated. Add Dijon mustard and mix well. Remove meat mixture from heat and add apples; stir to combine. Liquid should be all absorbed. Season with salt and cool.

Roll out tourtiere dough and fill pie shells with tourtiere filling. Top with another pie dough and seal edges. Cut a few slits or a design in the top to allow hot air to escape and brush with beaten egg. Bake at 375F until crust is nicely browned.

These freeze well, either before or after baking.

WFD? A Fall Menu

What’s For Dinner?
Well, this was my haul from the market this morning. So many gorgeous fall fruits and vegetables to choose from! Also, a new bakery opened up there, so I am trying out an assortment of their breads. It was easy to get inspired for tonight’s simple menu:

Acorn Squash and Macintosh Apple Soup,
Candied Squash,
Roasted Garlic Crostini’s with Rosemary Ham and Gouda,
7-Spice Deep-Dish Apple Pie

Here’s the

SOUP recipe. It’s so fast to make:

1 small acorn squash, or other winter squash
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
chicken or vegetable stock, or filtered water
salt and pepper
½ cup 35% cream

Seed, peel, and thinly slice squash into two inch strips(like in the picture). In a large pot, melt butter and oil together until it bubbles. Add onion and sauté until onion is soft. Add squash and apple and just enough water or stock to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until squash is tender. Transfer just the soup pulp into a blender, reserving the broth for another use. Puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Return to pot and add cream. Season with salt and pepper and heat gently. Serve.

For the candied squash, I just slow-roasted off a chunk in the oven with butter and brown sugar. Then I diced it up and dropped it in the soup for a little texture.

I make my own fresh apple pie spice using a blend of cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, star anice, allspice, long pepper, and nutmeg. All spices are whole and I grind them just before using.
The result is an unforgettably perfumed pie.

This is the lazy-man’s apple pie. Just fold the over-hanging crust back onto the pie for an easy old-fashioned look. Glaze with beaten egg and milk and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Mmm.

What’s for Dinner? Summer Risotto and Fruit Crumble

Risotto is a staple in this house. Now that good risotto rice is much easier to find and very affordable, we enjoy it often whether it is full of seasonal vegetables, chunks of seafood or just a simple Milanese. Tonight’s version was with basil, roasted chicken and fresh veg from my garden. Anyone can make a great risotto with the help of a good pot, good rice, good stock and good cheese! I never make the same risotto twice as I am always making variations with what I have on hand. If you don’t have a basic recipe, let me know, I’ll post one.Oh, and for the record, no risotto in Noah’s diaper. He hates it. Something about the creamy texture but then those darn al dente rice kernels that you have to chew.
It’s apple season!! The markets are laden with baskets of them and they are crisp, cheap and sweet. If you are wondering what to throw together for that potluck you have coming up or your mother-in-law’s weekly Sunday lunch, make a crumble. Do it. Everyone has their own recipe and version of what a crisp should taste like. Most of them are so full of sugar, you can’t taste the fruit. I made this one with honey, raspberries and wheat germ for something a little different and healthier. Here’s a recipe from Jamie Oliver that as little out of the ordinary, but delightful nevertheless.
Summer Crumble 3 apples, quartered, cored and finely chopped
2 pints blackberries or other berries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Small handful basil, chopped
5 heaping tablespoons sugar
4 heaping tablespoons flour
1/4 pound butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F Put the fruit into the bowl with the balsamic vinegar, basil, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add a little more sugar if your blackberries are a bit sour. Mix and put aside to marinate. Using your fingers, rub together the flour, butter, and the rest of the sugar. I prefer to do this by hand as I like to end up with a nice rustic-looking crumble with some bits bigger than others. Put the fruit into an ovenproof serving dish or into individual dishes. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the fruit, making sure to pile more into the middle of the dish. Bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the middle of the crumble is evenly golden.