Confit Don’t Fail Me Now

This bowl is the third in the new set; it’s an almost disaster that I salvaged into a candy dish sort of thing with a flat bottom. My limited skill on the wheel is greatly enhanced by my post-wheel surgical chops and willingness both to coax things back from the brink and celebrate their lopsided uniqueness. I suspect that after I throw a hundred more I will be a lot less precious about the process. In any case, this duck confit made a worthy passenger for the bowl’s maiden voyage.

Underneath that crispy leg, there is a generous dollop of the squash-whey risotto, reheated, and some greens (napa cabbage, mustard greens, and leek) braised in—wait for it—more yogurt whey. I also squeezed in some clementine juice, since I used that in the kumquat marmostarda, and thus everything on the plate had notes in common with something else. Except the duck, of course, because duck confit needs no help. The sticky starch, supple greens, and bright-hot mostardalade meshed famously in a happily acidic way, but with any harshness moderated by their textural sensualities and supporting flavors. Or something. It’s really just the fact that duck confit is so damn good you could serve it wrapped in newspaper and it would still kill.

The sides of the bowl taper inwards a bit, making for an enclosed and protected space within. I thought for a minute before I put this together, since current fashion and my own inclination both tend toward wide open platings where everything is visible. But I also enjoy some mystery; a concavity invites a peering sort of approach, an archaeological scrutiny that a flat plate does not allow. At first the bone hanging off the side seemed silly, but then I got to like it. There’s something to be said for a confined presentation; even my knife and fork work required a more deliberate verticality rather than the splayed abandon that normally attends a joint of bird. And that modification of the mundane meant more focus, more attention given to the flavors I worked to combine.

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  1. March 18

    I love how you are able to show the act of physical eating as an art form – more than just the art of cooking and combining flavor. Whenever I peek into your world, I am endlessly inspired.

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