Something Wicked Pissa This Way Comes

The duck sushi I wrote about a few days ago used only one of the two halves of the breast. The other half became a little experiment; I took it, raw and unseasoned, and dry-aged it for a week in the fridge to see what effect this would have on the flavor and texture. I just put it on a little metal rack over a plate so the air could get to all sides of it and left it alone. This was inspired by a post of Shola’s where he took two carcasses and let them age for 60 days. I figured that for one measly breast a week would be enough to see a significant change, and besides there was dinner that needed making and I couldn’t keep my hands off it any longer.

I scored and seared it, but kept it even rarer than usual because I really wanted to taste the meat. After I pulled it out of the pan, I used the rendered fat to cook a ragout of gardeny goodness: a diced turnip, peas, asparagus, and green garlic. Once that was done I took it out and shook some flour into the remaining fat to make a roux, turning it into gravy with some chicken stock once is was sufficiently noisette. I added cider vinegar and truffle salt to the gravy for interest, and strained it to remove various flotsam and crispy shrapnel that had remained in the pan.

The last touch, which really helped elevate the dish to an unusual level for a weeknight meal, was caramelizing blueberries in blackcurrant vinegar and maple syrup to make a gastrique. It took about one minute, and it’s the sort of flourish that can really help a dish sing, so now that we’re in fruit season I encourage you all to think in terms of bright, acidic finishing sauces and such using whatever you have on hand. (The jelly glaze on the other duck dish is a good example to follow for the fruitless months). You can see a diagonal dash of the syrup right there in the middle of the bowl. The berries played fabulously with the meat, which did have a noticeably richer density of flavor and texture. I’m going to try the whole carcass thing one of these days. The vegetables had that über-fresh spring vibrancy, and the gravy was… uh… gravy. I garnished the bowls with this fabulous Chinese cutting celery that’s a perennial and pretty much ignores winter altogether. It doesn’t form thick stalks, but I can go out and snip leaves in January from the unprotected plants so I’m going to call that a plus.

For wine, a new discovery: a bottle of 2010 Cab Franc from Eminence Road Farm Winery out in Delaware county. They’re growing some Pinot Noir, but just about all the fruit comes from the Finger Lakes, where the microclimate is excellent for grapes. It’s made with wild yeasts, minimal sulfur, and no fining or filtering. Fat, jammy, and ripe, it has a whiff of brett, good structure, and a bit of that Saint-Emilion character found in the northern limits of the appellation where it begins to resemble something from the Loire rather than Bordeaux. An excellent match with the duck, and it would kill with some barbecue. I’m ordering a case.

6 comments to Something Wicked Pissa This Way Comes

  • I like to garnish with the fruit at the bottom of the bowl, myself.

  • John

    Bradbury would have appreciated your title. Duck looks delicious.

  • Shola

    Nice work my friend.

  • Peter

    IB: You’re still alive?

    John: The aging really works.

    Shola: Thanks. Glad to have you here.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi, I’m a sporadic, but fairly longtime lurker. Sporadic because I occasionally become intimidated by the level at which you work, but always come back because the food is just so gorgeous. Love what you do here, both the food prep and the local sourcing/growing your own. I’m overcoming my self-consciousness about commenting because I really need to know about Chinese celery. I can’t/won’t buy conventional celery anymore, and organic veg aren’t available in the local (very rural) stores. Spring through Fall I’ve been using komatsuna in soups etc as a replacement, but the idea of an actual celery that might grow in this climate, possibly surviving the winter is embarrassingly exciting. So, would you be willing to give a variety name, and possibly a seed source?

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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