Kris’ birthday quackalicous jenga.
So I get the text saying that it’s “Kris’ 40th next week and I need some dinner suggestion?” This was from my wonderful sister Zoe, and Kris, as you can most likely piece together, is my brother in law… so this pleased me as I love them both dearly, and Zoe is also pretty decent in the kitchen so I could suggest anything and she’d have a crack, or in this case a quack!
Yes I truly reckon that’s the worst joke to date that I have typed and placed in front of your eyeholes… I‘m better than that, I wouldn’t normally worry about such poultry matters but I have always said “no foul no game”… booyah triple bird pun!!!!
(Not entirely sure on reading that back whether I have proved anything at all)
Any who back to the mission to feed Kris so he’ll stop freaking out about being 40, yes 40 years out is not the new 50 as most 40 year olds have you believe, no it is in fact still 40 and that is getting on in anyone’s language.
So what to cook?
Do we cook his favourite?
Shall we do something visually spectacular?
Stick with the classics?
Well I’ll tell you what we’re going to cook and it will very quickly become his favourite, as it is visually spectacular and strips away all the rules where classic cant be fucked with, as they can/should/must be tweaked and played with as that is what being a chef is all about…. It is mixture of a few classic dishes and styles of cooking, still kept simple as not to lose its warmth.
Society makes us conform to names for dishes, it dictates that I should call this dish…
‘Duck leg confit on a bed of steamed Asian greens, hand cut chips served with a sour cherry sauce’
Well that sounds like bollocks!
I want to call it…
‘Mr Crispy and his sour mates play jenga’
But I may settle for…
‘Crispy skin duck confit, sour cherry greens, thrice cooked spud jenga’
With the naming of said dish complete I shall give you the recipes and hope you all embrace Mr Crispy into your life.
4 duck legs (Maryland)
aromatics (star anise, bay leaves, garlic, thyme)
Enough duck fat to cover (1lt perhaps, remember you can never have enough duck fat on hand)
• Salt the duck legs over night, then wash salt off and dry the legs really, really well. Pat dry with paper.
• Heat fat with aromats, in this instance use 2 bay leaves, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon (chilli if you want 1 dried would work best)
• In a high sided dish place legs and cover with warm fat, make sure completely covered and place in the oven covered and cook for 3-5 hours at 110c
• Check if cooked by carefully pulling out and you will know as the meat has to close to falling off the bone
• Once there just pull out legs and carefully place on a wire rack out of the fat to cool.
• Strain fat and once leg is cooled pour the fat back over it.
• When you come to actually cooking and serving, you will need to clean fat off. They don’t have to be completely cleaned as you will be cooking in fat anyway.
• Just heat a bit of the stored fat in a pan so you have at least a 1cm of fat in base of pan, place the legs very carefully in the smoking hot fat (they will spit so be careful) and once they settle down check to see its well crispy then quickly flip over for a second.
• Remove from pan and cook in a hot oven for 5-10 until hot.
• Serve ☺
Sour cherry sauce (the tits)
4 shitake (or any mushroom if you don’t like strong mushie)
50 ml red wine vinegar (pedro ximinez vinegar would be best)
100 ml port
5 g sugar
1 star anise
½ cinnamon quill
200 ml stock (chicken, duck, veg, whatever… could just be water)
180g sour cherry from jar or tin (get the best)
• Whack everything but the cherries in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes
• Pour the sauce over the chopped up cherries and gently heat before serving
• This sauce is nice without the cherries and just toss the sauce around steamed kai lan or brocolini
Thrice cooked duck fat jenga
4 large royal blue spuds (cooked in skin and only just cook)
normal deep fryer
• Square off the cooked spud and cut into 4 massive chips, one cut down the center lengthways then cut each half again lengthways and job done
• Fry off once in a deep fryer with oil, but only just get a crust then drain and cool
• For serving shallow fry in duck fat until crispy as fuck
• Salt those crispy homeboys.
For final plate up I recommend, stacking chips like jenga to one side of plate, then get some steamed kai lan and cherries and toss them in the sauce and make that into an insanely tasty bed for Mr Crispy.
Enjoy your Birthday Kris, love ya brother