I’ve had the Bouchon cookbook for years now, and have attempted two three things out of it, one of which is a “simple” cauliflower gratin that required no less than, oh, say about 27 ingredients and about the same number in pounds of machinery to make four tiny ramekins of stuff that I’m sure most people just throw together into a casserole dish. (I’m not exaggerating.)
We now have a copy of Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, which is supposed to be full of “easier”-ish things to make at home, or at least they seem that way because they’re comfy, home-y foods that go with Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant. You know, like fried chicken.
And potato salads.
And Duck Confit with Quinoa.
I actually thought this recipe was supposed to be relatively easy, especially since the first ingredient “canola oil” is just that, with no measurements. I mean, really? A recipe from Thomas Keller that has an ingredient without a precise measurement? And an instruction to just “heat some canola oil in a medium saucepan?!”
I decided to make this dish and impress the corks off my dinner guests because it didn’t look complicated, and yet it had duck in it, and was from Thomas Keller. Duck confit! Ooh la la la! And Thomas Keller! You fancy, huh?
The morning of my dinner party, I started getting ready. Hours and hours and hours before the first guest would even think about getting into the shower to get ready to come over to my house. Because I’m all good and prepared like that.
But not good enough and not prepared enough to realize that the duck confit in the Duck Confit with Quinoa required hours, no days, heck you could even say weeks, to prepare in advance.
I was f**ked.
I panicked. I freaked.
Until a little gourmet French market came to my rescue.
Yes, Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market in the 3rd/Fairfax Farmers’ Market actually carries duck confit. It’s already cooked. It’s smothered with fat. And it’s all ready to go. When the sales girl told me over the phone that they had a bunch of it in the freezer, I raced over there and practically (french) kissed the sales girl on the spot.
Was the frozen duck confit as good as one I should have made myself? I don’t really know since I’ve never made duck confit before. But the dish is pretty fantastic. The quinoa makes the dish healthy (and “aware”), the escarole is crisp, and the dried currants are a natural sweet balance to the rich, fatty, salty delicious duck. We’ve made it in the TasteSpotting Kitchen at least five times.
And used prepared duck confit from Monsieur Marcel. (One of these days, though, yes, I actually will try making my own duck confit, maybe I just might use this “cheater” recipe that doesn’t require days.)
Quinoa with Duck Confit
from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
½ cup quinoa (we actually doubled this to 1 cup because we like quinoa)
1 cup water (doubled to 2 cups)
1 carrot cut into 3-inch pieces
½ medium leek, outer leaves removed, cut in half, length-wise, and cleaned
1 large onion wedge, root end still intact
1 leg duck confit, room temperature
1 tablespoon currants, plumped in ¼ cup hot water
1½ cups loosely packed trimmed escarole
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Heat some canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm. Add the quinoa and toast, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes; the quinoa should have a very nutty aroma. Pour in the water, add the carrot, leek, onion, sachet (see below), and sprinkling of salt, increase the heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes until tender.
Drain the quinoa and place in a mixing bowl, discarding the vegetables and sachet.
Let the quinoa cool to room temperature, then complete, or cover and refrigerate.
(The quinoa can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before completing.)
To serve, remove the skin and fat from the duck leg and pull the meat into shreds. Add the duck, currants, escarole, olive oil, and vinegar to the quinoa, mixing gently. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
Lay out a 7-inch square of cheesecloth. Put the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic near the bottom of the square and fold the bottom edge up and over them. Roll once, tuck in the two ends of the cheesecloth, and continue to roll. Tie the cheesecloth at both ends with kitchen twine.