Author Topic: Sunday is for cooking  (Read 1954 times)


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Sunday is for cooking
« on: March 14, 2010, 08:41:42 PM »
Ever since I started my new job, I lost the ability to cook involved meals on weekdays.  Especially since my work day ends at 7PM.  This means that the heavy kitchen duties fall on Sundays where we collaborate to make meals that will be easy to throw together on the weekdays.  So today I did the following:

0. Split up a Bell and Evans duck into its component parts.

0 (a): the wings, neck, back, and ribs went into a bag for stock.
0 (b): the legs and thighs went into the fridge for confit.
0 (c): the breasts went into salt for duck prosciutto (to be cured in the curing chamber later).
0 (d): the skin went into a low oven to give up its fat for the confit.
0 (e): the heart, liver, and tenderloins went into the fridge for an unknown later use (I intended to bread and fry them but that didn't happen, explained below)

1. Ground up five pounds of well-marbled Georgia pork shoulder from Harry's

2. Ground up 3.5 pounds of Georgia chuck roast with about 1.5 pound of homemade bacon

3. One pound of the ground pork was turned into Vietnamese meatballs which were later deep fried and then put into storage in the fridge for dinner tomorrow night

4. Six (raw) beef meatballs were thawed and fried for dinner later this week.

4 (a). By this time, the fry oil looked pretty dark and spent, so I chose not to fry the liver and tenderloins in it.  Bummer.

4. Two pounds of the ground beef / bacon was turned into raw meatloaf which was covered and frozen.  (I don't know if this is a good idea... I was afraid that freezing it raw to be thawed and cooked later might turn it tough.  This is an experiment.)

5. Broken rice was cooked and later stir fried in the wok with onion, carrot, snow peas, green beans, onion, garlic, shrimp, soy sauce, dry sherry, ginger, green onion, and lime juice to make fried rice which turned out to be dinner and left a mountain of leftovers.

The duck skin gave up a little more than 1/2 cup of golden duck fat.  I resisted the urge to immediately slice up a potato and start frying, and that took most of my remaining strength.  I am presently waiting for the fat to cool so that I can combine it with the duck legs and thighs and then begin the confit, which I think will go overnight at 170 in the oven.

It was a good day.

Offline GabrielsDad

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Re: Sunday is for cooking
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 03:30:22 PM »
So you're a vegetarian?   ;D

Sounds spectacular.  Nice work.
There are things you do because they feel right & they make no sense & they make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good.
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 08:12:16 PM »
(Note to Gabrielsdad: I'm a vegan of course!)

I was inspired by the "Using up the duck" thread to use up a duck.  This is the fate, thus far, of the duck mentioned in the first part of this thread.

My original plan was to buy two ducks, cure all the breasts, and confit all the thighs.  After the employee at Harry's weighed out one duck and it came up to $20 (!) we opted for one duck.

I rendered the duck fat yesterday (pain in the ass), and then covered the duck legs in a vac-u-suck bag with the rendered fat.  I put that into the freezer overnight to chill out.

This morning before work, I sealed the bag as best could be done with the pathetic vac-u-sucker and then put the bag into hot water into the slow cooker.  Off to work.

I come home from work to find that the bag has failed, all the fat has spilled into the water, and the water has infiltrated the bag.  I removed the duck from the ruptured bag and separated it from the bones.  Tasting it, it tasted just like dull gray meat.  It had given up all its flavor to the water.  Disgusting!  F.  I spitefully threw the leg meat away.

But I wasn't going to lose the fat.  I bailed as much of it out of the water as I could and then put it on the stove (it was probably 50% water) to boil out the water.  Fail.  The water didn't boil nicely.  Instead, it sputtered volcanically.  Abort.  I poured the stuff into a bowl and have instead opted to let it sit in the fridge so that the fat can be removed once it resolidifies.

The breasts I removed from the salt an boy do they look pathetic.  These aren't Hudson Valley magret de canard by any stretch of the imagination.  After a 24-hour cure in salt, they are about 3/4 inch thick.  So sad.  Nonetheless, they were dark and firm and ready to be aged, so I wrapped them in cheesecloth and put them in the curing chamber where they will sit for seven days.

So far, this is not a good use of my money or my time.

Offline HaagenDazs

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Re: Sunday is for cooking
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 08:02:20 AM »
That sucks.

I have a older, cheaper food saver model myself and on some occasions the seal will not form perfectly.  Even tossing things in the freezer I put 2 or 3 seals on both ends just to make sure.  Maybe next time (if there is a next time) try multiple seals and even double bag it.  Hopefully the breast meat will turn out well.


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Duck FAIL part 2: the horror intensifies
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 09:26:21 PM »
Upon coming home to meatloaf that wasn't yet done, I decided to make good use of the time spent waiting.  I removed the bowl containing the duck fat and the water expecting to lift the golden disk of culinary heaven from the useless bath of duck-water underneath it.

Instead I saw something I didn't expect.  The fat did float to the surface, but it did not fully separate from the water.  Instead, it had formed an emulsion of sorts.  "Why did this happen?" I asked Steve.  I then supposed out loud, "It must be because the proteins acted as an emulsifier."  "It looks like snot", Steve helpfully offered.

I skimmed the snot out of the water and decided I would try to reduce it again, but this time I convinced myself it would be easier since the fat to water ratio was higher.  I poured the emulsified fat into the small saucier and covered the saucier with some aluminum foil that I poked some holes in.  I turned on the fire very low, and sure enough, we started to hear the duck fat erupt underneath only to be thwarted by the aluminum shield.  Success!  The isolated duck fat would soon be mine.  We retired to the basement for a few minutes while the meatloaf continued to cook.

Steve went back up later to find out that he duck fat bomb I had inadvertently constructed executed properly.  There was no duck fat left in the saucier at all.  Instead, it was all over the range top, the counter top, the floor, the wall, and the vent hood.

The only parts of the duck I have left now is the back and wings (for stock), the organy bits, and the curing, wafer-thin duck breasts.  I suppose I am succeeding in "using up the duck", but I expected it to be far more delicious and much less explodey.


Offline mikeamor

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Re: Sunday is for cooking
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2010, 02:02:46 PM »
Steve went back up later to find out that he duck fat bomb I had inadvertently constructed executed properly.

First of all, I am sorry for your loss.
This is starting to look like a good candidate for a "Duck Disasters" thread.
You have reminded me of my first attempt to cook a duck many, many a year ago.
I was a blossoming gastronome and thought I was going to be smart and rotisserie cook it on the charcoal grill. 
It's just a weird shaped chicken, right?
I had no idea how much fat was rendered when cooking a duck.
When I came out to check on it later, the entire grill was engulfed in flames, inside and out.
It was quite a spectacular fireball but the duck and the grill were a total loss.
Unfortunately, a conclusion is usually the place where you got tired of thinking.

Offline Foodgeek

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Re: Sunday is for cooking
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2010, 02:50:51 PM »
May I extend my deepest sympathies as well. Here's hoping that the cured duck breast will turn out to be delicious.

I must say that I consider myself extremely lucky that I've never had a duck flop. It is truly an animal that one has to get a "feel" for, so I'm glad that I started out with just one simple preparation, and then gradually moved on to more complicated things from there.

About 10 years ago or so, I started dating a guy who had a very avid interest in my history of working in kitchens, since he had a personal fantasy of some day being a chef, but he felt certain that this fantasy would never come true (he did end up becoming a chef years later). I told him about my first job in a high volume kitchen (Cheesecake Factory), my time burning the flesh off my arms while manning the pizza ovens and several other stories that I really didn't think were that impressive at all. Well, I guess he was more impressed than I thought, and since I also talked about how much I liked duck, he made the very reasonable assumption that I must be able to cook duck very well.

So one night I went over to his apartment for dinner and I was greeted by him handing me a whole duck and a chef's knife. Well, I suppose I deserved that, but I really hadn't been trying to inflate my experience in any way. It did occur to me at that moment that I hadn't ever cooked a duck - I think I might have seared a couple of breasts before that - and that I had definitely never butchered a duck. So I gulped hard a couple of times and dove in there.

Amazingly, the meal I made turned out to be very good. I quartered the duck, per a Jacques Pepin recipe, and cooked the pieces, skin side down, in a chicken fryer (a pan, not a deep fryer). Seasoned with nothing but a little salt and pepper, plus the flavor of its own fat, it was delicious. I served it with a dipping sauce of ginger, rice wine and soy, similar to the kind that you get at some Chinese bbq places.

For quite a long time after that, that was the only way I cooked duck. After all, it worked, so why fix what isn't broken? By the time I did my first confit I was a pro at breaking down a duck in several different ways, and I'd begun to amass a good reserve of duck fat in my fridge, so from there I was only limited by my own imagination. However, I have no doubt that, if I'd picked something wildly complicated to start out, it may very well have ended with me bawling over a ruined duck, certain that I was a lousy cook.

Stay strong, Loundry, and know that, while this particular misadventure does seem outrageous enough to be a sitcom sketch, your next date with Daffy will be a winner.
Food is my favorite.


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Re: Sunday is for cooking
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 09:22:43 PM »
Well, I finally got around to slicing the cured duck breasts.  Since it took me so long to report on it, you can probably guess that it didn't go too well.

First of all, I now know what happens if you let something cure too long.  The duck breasts were simply too dry.  They were so dry that "duck shavings" were flying all over the place when I put them into the slicer.  These duck shavings went everywhere, but they were still moist enough to prove very difficult to clean up.  The right tool for the job would have been a paintbrush.  I haven't done any painting in a while.  The slicer still hasn't been cleaned.  Interestingly enough, the duck shavings have become even more dry, and consequently they resemble wood shavings even more perfectly in both appearance and texture (hand, not mouth).

Second of all, I let the breasts cure too long.  I suppose this happened because these were wimpy-thin cuts of duck breast instead of the plump 'n' juicy cuts of duck breast that Ruhlman and Polcyn's recipe in Charcuterie calls for.  They were so salty that they were inedible.  We have resorted to using them as a substitute for salt. (!)

But everyone has to start somewhere, right?  I'm looking forward to curing the pork loin to make lonzino.

The only part of the original duck left is the carcass and neck.  Those will go into "chucken" stock and I'm pretty sure they will be tasty.


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