Going Aggro

This is more of a follow-up post to yesterday than anything else, because the recipe was poached from Thomas Keller’s sous-vide guide. I can’t claim any of it as originally mine, except for the pictures. But it’s important that you see it, because it was REALLY GOOD.

And I’m pretty sure you could adapt it to suit your home kitchen that isn’t overrun with fancy gadgetry and impulse-bought technology.

A word on duck: There are a lot of things that my mom eats that I won’t touch. Gin, tonic, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, coffee, earl gray tea, mayonnaise, sour cream, soft cheeses, etc. I guess you could say it’s mostly drinks, some cruciferous vegetables, and things that are creamy AND white, AND savory all at the same time.

And she has a laundry list of things that I love that she won’t eat: raw tuna, bison, duck, squab, tofu, mushrooms… see the trend? Her “meaty” preferences are pretty limited to the standard pig, cow, chicken, and turkey. She hates duck. Even duck confit. It’s beyond my understanding, because I find duck to be absolutely delicious. It somehow manages to encompass the meaty redness of beef, the versatility of chicken, and the salty, fatty appeal of pork. And duck confit is so good that when it dies, it’ll be sent the same place that Dumbledore and Gandalf are spending their eternity. Some kind of magical heaven, I’d assume. Probably Grant Achatz would go there, too, if he weren’t such a cocky weinermobile. Still love the guy’s food, but his public persona irritates me to no end.

My sister is a vegetarian, so my big, family meals involving the more advanced meats are limited to when my brother comes to visit. This was one of the meals I cooked for him while he was here visiting, and it was the best treatment I’ve ever seen for duck breast. I include duck prosciutto in that statement.

It’s duck breast with caramelized endive, confit of oranges, toasted almonds, and sauce aigre-doux.

I made couscous because I really love the way fruit and couscous marry. It was a good choice for a side flavor-wise, but in no way kept with the French spin on this dish.

The aigre-doux is just a sweet and sour sauce. It’s called “agrodolce” in Italian cuisine. The confit orange supremes are a great amplifier for the undertones of the aigre-doux. Oranges are in season right now, so it’s a great time to take advantage of them at their peak.

To make the aigre-doux:

Take 4 oranges. From them, gather 1/2 t zest, 1/2 C of juice, and set aside the remainder to make orange supremes.

In a small pan, place the orange juice, 1/2 C sugar, 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and reduce to a sauce consistency (1/2 C).

Stir in the orange zest and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar.

Bam. That’s it. You could pour this sauce over anything. Fried chicken, for example. Completely eliminates the need for you to ever go to Panda Express for their Godforsaken Orange Chicken ever again!

But I’d recommend pouring it over duck. With some orange segments that have soaked in sugar syrup for a bit. And some braised endive. The endive adds a fantastic bitter element to the dish. Not something I’d be into eating on its own, but a bite with the duck and the endive and the sauce? Absolutely balanced flavor. Perfection.

My brother called it “squid vegetable,” but that’s probably because it looked eerie in the light after being chamber sealed.

It’s less threatening without the backlighting.

And even less threatening when it’s with its friends, about to be IN.YO.BELLEH!

Honestly, it’s flavor combinations like this one that put Keller in the French Laundry, while I languish in the cloth diaper laundry at home.

P.S. I hung the cloth diapers on a clothesline in the yard the other day, flying bravely in the face of the HOA regulations against them. Full hippie. Rebel. Running with gangs.

P.P.S. I bet this sauce would be the BUSINESS drizzled over some grilled asparagus. Can’t wait for spring veg to hit the market.

2 thoughts on “Going Aggro”

  1. HA!!!! You go with your bad-azz rebel self!!! And also….sun is THE best for cloth diapers. LOVE IT.

    And also….when I come to CO sometime, you must cook me duck. I have only ever had overly cooked dry yucky duck. And I feel like it has not been given a fair chance on my taste palate.

  2. So I made this (the aigre-doux) last night for dinner, but made the mistake of telling shawn that it was supposed to taste like the orange sauce from Panda Express. He put way too much on his chicken and rice (which, by the way, i was planning on having chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato fries, but shawn went all 'but it's ASIAN!' on me and instead we had rice), and then said it tasted too much like those (in my opinion) delicious gummy orange slices to be any good.

    but I believe the point is that I liked it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *