karohemd: (Chef)
I've been wanting to do this for a while so I finally bought a pack of Gressingham duck legs and some duck fat on Monday.
To prepare, I rubbed the duck pieces with a mix of chopped garlic, sea salt, cracked black pepper and thyme, wrapped the bowl in clingfilm and let it sit in the fridge.
After about three hours, I took the legs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Meanwhile, I melted the fat in a saucepan that was big enough to fit the two legs snugly. I scraped off most of the seasoning and dropped the legs into the fat, put on a lid and let them simmer on the lowest setting my cooker offers for three hours or so, checking now and then that the meat was still completely submerged and the fat wasn't boiling.
Now came the tricky part, taking out the legs without them falling apart. I managed this mostly with one leg but the other was in pieces. I let the legs drain on plenty of kitchen paper for a few minutes while I preheated my little grill oven on its highest setting (probably around 220°). The intact leg as well as the skin from the one that fell apart went onto a rack in a tray under the grill for about 15 minutes until it was nicely browned and crispy (possibly a touch too long). It looked like this:

Confit duck leg and scratchings


The meat was soft and the skin crispy without being fatty as all the fat had rendered. Being very lazy I just had a mixed leaf salad and some ciabatta with it. It was very good indeed.

I took the rest of the meat off the other leg, shredded it, wrapped it in foil with some of the fat and kept it in the fridge for lunch today.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
The Pass restaurant is in Sussex and a bit tricky to get to from Cambridge so when I read that Matt would do a "popup" at Cinnamon Kitchen (a few minutes from Liverpool St. station), it sounded like an easy way of sampling his food. After a train and tube journey that took 40 minutes longer than it should have, I arrived at the restaurant in time for the welcome drink (a rather nice Bellini). The meal itself was at the "tandoor bar" in the main restaurant, a long low open kitchen counter with comfortable chairs (not barstools) behind which the chefs worked and were also happy to answer questions and explain what they were doing.

Matt Gillan Lewis Hamblet Matt Gillan

When we arrived the chefs (Matt Gillan, head chef at The Pass, Lewis Hamblet, executive chef at South Lodge and Sarah Payne, junior sous chef) were busy assembling the starter. I ordered a glass each of the recommended wines and after a short introduction to the dish by Matt, the starter was served.

Curried gressingham duck breast, braised leg, blackened onions, pink grapefruit

There were two elements of duck in the dish (Curried gressingham duck breast, braised leg, blackened onions, pink grapefruit), hot slow cooked leg in a parcel and rolled up slices of dark pink breast at room temperature. This might sound slightliy odd but worked perfectly and the additional elements tied everything together adding texture and acidity. The wine, a Pinot Gris, worked well with the dish, even if you would expect a red with duck.

Roasted stone bass, spring onions, chick pea, watercress

The fish dish (Roasted stone bass, spring onions, chick pea, watercress) was next and freshly cooked directly in front of me as were the spring onions. You could see how much are and attention went into cooking the fish and the result was brilliant: Crispy skin and moist, flaky fish with excellent accompaniments.

Main: saddle of lamb, slow cooked belly, lamb fat gnocchi, lemon curd, mushroom

The main event was saddle of lamb, slow cooked belly (sitting underneath the slices of saddle), lamb fat gnocchi, lemon curd, mushroom. The meat had been cooked to medium in a waterbath and was then freshly seared and sliced. The belly had been cooked overnight and then pressed. The gnocchi and mushrooms were freshly fried as well. This dish is actually fighting with the lamb I had at Tuddenham Mill I had earlier this month. The basic idea was the same, a prime and a "cheap" cut of meat with interesting accompaniments but rather different in execution. I loved the contrast of the two cuts of meat, the juicy saddle and the soft and crispy belly (which wasn't greasy at all). The gnocchi were crispy on the outside, soft inside, the mushrooms had great flavour and the lemon curd (as weird as it sounds) tied everything together and provided the acidity that came from the yoghurt in Paul Foster's dish. Genius.

Dessert: vanilla and lime cream, mint gel, cucumber, mango, coconut sorbet

The dessert was vanilla and lime cream (inside the cylinder), mint gel, cucumber, mango, coconut sorbet. Lovely fresh, fruity and not too sweet flavours, some soft, some crunchy with the surprising element being the cucumber balls which had been steeped in a light stock syrup to give it some sweetness. Brilliant.

You can find more photos in this flickr set which will be expanded with a few more shots when I find the time over the next few days.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
A new month means new dishes at Alimentum so I went yesterday to try some of them. I was told a menu had been created for me (things like this happen when you're friends with the chefs on twitter) so I didn't even know in advance what I would get (or choose from a menu) and that it would turn into a 8-course extravaganza.

The canapees came in a funky double bowl:
Canapees: Popcorn and Cheese&Onion Macarons

Alimentum popcorn and Cheese&Onion macarons. Both had an excellent flavour combination of savoury and sweet. I could happily devour a box of those macarons.

The amuse bouche was a small bowl of frothy cauliflower veloute, with little bits of pickled cauli at the bottom.
Amuse Bouche: Cauliflower veloute

This style of soup is one of Alimentum's staples and there's a new flavour every month or so. A nice way to get the tastebuds going.

The next dish was smoked haddock with a fried egg and a fluffy potato veloute.
First starter: Haddock and potato veloute, fried egg

Definitely the first highlight in my menu, the different textures made this. Flaky haddock, frothy soup, rich egg and some crispy bits. Oh, and served by the head chef himself. :)

The first meat dish was a duck terrine (smoked leg and foie gras) with sorbe and fig, and liver parfait on toast.
Second starter: duck terrine, sorbe, fig, liver parfait on toast

The only thing that was a bit off for me here was the "BBQ sauce" that was a bit strong for me but that's a personal preference as I'm not a fan of BBQ sauce. Still, with only a little, it was a great addition.

Back to fish: mackerel with a teriyaki glaze with avocado puree, cucumber and radish.
Fish: mackerel, teryiaki glaze, cucumber, radish

Mackerel is one of my favourite fish, you don't need to much to it, only barely cook it and this is what I got here. The glaze wasn't overpowering and the salad was nicely refreshing. The second highlight.

The main act was a duo of beef. Roasted sirloin with carrots and onion ash and in a separate little copper pot a beef cheek ragu and a generous blob of horseradish mash with more onion ash.
Main: beef, carrot, onion ash

Needless to say, the sirloin was perfectly and evenly cooked, deeply flavoured and soft, perfectly matched by the carrot, the jus and the onion ash adding a bit of zing. The ragu had clearly been cooked for a very long time as the meat was reduced to tiny slithers with jus the right amount of sauce. Deep and rich, I was almost tempted to just dig in with the spoon but didn't in the end. While writing this, I remembered I had a rather similar dish at Pollen St. Social last year and thinking back, I prefer Alimentum's version.

By that time, I was thoroughly stuffed but there were two desserts to come:
Luckily, the pre-dessert was very light: a smooth pernod foam, with bits of pineapple at the bottom and fennel crisps stuck in top (yes, this works, very well).
Pre dessert: Pineapple Foam

The only criticism I could find was that it could be a bit more colourful, especially when served in a white bowl.

The final dessert was a slice of Battenburg cake with apricot icecream on one and a cylinder of amaretto foam on the other side.
Dessert: Battenburg cake, apricot ice cream and foam

The apricot things were light but I couldn't finish the cake after that generously poritioned main before. It was, however, very nice indeed and I'm not a big fan of this sort of cake. The natural light from behind me had faded by that point so this photo didn't come out quite as planned.

So yes, another great meal at Alimentum. The restaurant had a little facelift and a window to the kitchen has been added so you can watch the chefs at work. Immediately behind the window is the cold section where desserts and cold elements of other dishes are assembled but you can also see the stoves further in.

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karohemd: (Chef)
As I had to buy two duck breasts and live on my own, I had duck again tonight. After a more traditional version last night I thought I'd try something a little different, inspired by one of Richard Corrigan's recipes on Channel 4's Cookery School (a rather fun programme, actually).
First, I skinned the duck breast, scored it slightly, rubbed it with salt and put it into a cold pan, a sheet of greaseproof paper on top and weighed it down with a saucepan that would fit inside. I slowly turned up the heat to medium and cooked the skin until nicely browned, every now and then spooning out the rendered fat into a little bowl. I flipped the skin to crisp up the other side using the same method, took it out and drained it on some kitchen paper.

Next, I fried the breast in some of the reserved duck fat on both sides until seared nicely, removed it from the pan and covered it in foil to rest.
In the same pan I fried some ginger cut into matchsticks and finely sliced garlic and then added chicken stock, a splash of soy sauce, some chilli powder, freshly ground pepper and a bruised stalk of lemongrass, the washed spinach, put on a lid and simmered until the spinach was wilted. I took out the lemongrass and adjusted the seasoning with salt and lime juice and added the resting juices from the duck.

In a deep plate, I added the parsnip chunks (simmered in milk earlier), the spinach, the sliced duck and poured over the broth, garnishing with the sliced, crispy skin. You don't really need to season the meat and veg as the broth will be flavourful enough.

karohemd: (Chef)
I hadn't had duck in a while so I picked up a couple of Gressingham duck breasts during my lunchtime shop.
This evening I was meant to go out so I just made something quick:
I trimmed and scored the skin, put the breast skin side down into a cold pan and turned up the heat. This way the fat under the skin has time to render before the skin crispens. When the skin was nicely browned, I seasoned the fleshy side with sea salt and pepper, turned the heat down, flipped the breast and cooked that side until sealed, transferred into a dish and finished it in a medium oven for about five minutes before I took it out, covered it in foil and let rest.
For the sauce, I sprinkled some icing sugar into the fat (of there wasn't much, with more fattier ducks you might have to get rid of some of the fat), deglazed the pan with a good glug of red wine, added a teaspoon of concentrated chicken stocka and let it simmer until it was the right consistency, seasoning with salt and pepper.
I served it on crushed new potatoes and with some wilted spinach (cooked in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg).

The meat was soft and tender, the skin crispy and not fatty at all, the sauce was probably the best I've ever made and the spuds and spinach went well with it.


I have another breast which I'm going to cook differently tomorrow. It'll be an experiment so you might not see a post. ;o)
karohemd: (Chef)
Not much of a recipe:
Score the skin of the duck breast in a diamond pattern and rub it genereously with coarse sea salt and cracked pepper. Put in the cold pan and turn it up to high. This way, the fat underneath the skin will mostly render out and the skin will be nice and crispy.
Only when the skin is crispy brown, season the meat side and flip it over. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for another three minutes or so, then transfer the breast skin side up to a 180 degree oven for about 10 minutes or done to your liking (I like it still pink).

Meanwhile braise the sliced leeks in butter and a splash of water, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Cut the potatoes into thick slices, parboil for five minutes, drain and then fry in the duck pan.

Rest the duck breast for 10 minutes before cutting at an angle (the scored pattern on the skin is ideal as a guide), arrange on a bed of leeks with the potatoes on the side.

Deglaze the pan with a small glass of red wine and reduce for a while to get out all the goodness and drizzle that reduction over the meat.

Enjoy!



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