At the Grill with Chef Scott Roberts: Duck
We're switching things up a bit with post 3 of 4 in our series with chef Scott Roberts. You can read his recipe for scallops here, and grilled sea bream here. This time we're taking a break from seafood to learn about duck.
My favorite part about photographing this segment (aside from getting to eat it after) was watching the organization and tidiness of his process which can only be described as military-like cleanliness. Or, the #1 thing that makes an allergic person both relaxed and happy when dining out. I literally had to do nothing here, aside from move the lights around, stand on a floor pouf to get the angle, and click my camera. Everything was either already prepped and in its own container, or washed, dried, and presented nicely on a plate. Just like this:
In Scott's words:
"A good restaurant should operate like a machine. Keeping a clean and organised workspace is the first step cooks can take to improve productivity and quality."
And in my words:
Quebec Duck Breast, Pickled Plum, Rapini, Szechuan Pepper
Free from dairy, nuts, peanuts, egg, soy, mustard, wheat, oats, fish, shellfish
1 duck breast
1 tsp. szechuan peppercorns
salt to taste
a sprinkle of maple sugar
a couple sprigs of thyme
1 bunch of rapini
For the plums:
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
4 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp salt
First, spare yourself any embarrassment and learn how to properly pronounce morels. I've been saying morals for years.
The next thing to do is prep the plums which should be done ahead of time. Slice them into 4 segments, and then into bite sized pieces. Bring vinegar and water to a boil with the sugar, salt, and plum scraps. Let it sit for 10 minutes, covered and off the heat. Strain the warm liquid over the plum segments and then let sit for at least 2 hours.
For the morels, quickly rinse and pat dry as they can be gritty.
Since this is part of our "At The Grill" series, you're probably wondering what was grilled here. And the answer is the rapini. If you haven't grilled rapini, lettuce, or any leafy green, please stop everything and go do that. It's very important that you know how good it tastes. To cook it like Scott did, heat up the charcoal grill, drizzle the greens with a little olive oil, and toss them on until they are tender and have a nice char.
For the duck breast, you'll notice that it's very fatty on the skin side. Rub that side with the cracked peppercorns and salt, and then put it face down into a hot stainless steel pan. Let it fry for 12 - 15 minutes on medium heat. Then take it off the heat and let the flip to let the other side cook for a minute. Sprinkle a little maple sugar on the skin, then transfer it to the charcoal and grill it on the skin side until it's medium to medium rare depending on your preference. Duck is not like other poultry and can safely be eaten rare.
Let it rest for 10 - 15 minutes before plating. Add the morels and thyme to the pan and give them a nice fry until tender and aromatic.
To plate it, cut the duck breast into 1-inch thick slices, slice the morels in half, and pull the nice looking leaves off the rapini. Arrange it around the plate and then add the plums and plum juice as a sauce.
The rapini is smokey, the plums are sweet and tart, the morels are earthy, and the duck breast is rich and tender.