March 03, 2012

red curry of duck and pineapple

scattered sporadically amongst a field of seasonal crops and foraged fodder, we also intend to continue to explore food to its international maximum. we have recently treated ourselves to a new cookery book; a manifesto of asian cooking so exquisite and profound that we broke our cardinal rule and spent more than our £15 spending limit. we were incredibly excited to try this recipe for red curry of duck and pineapple which had our mouths watering from the start.

the recipe is designed to utilise a whole ready prepared chinese roast duck. however there was just two of us dining, so i took the two duck legs we had and artificially recreated the combination of ingredients evident in chinese roast duck with the elements we had to hand. firstly i rubbed a liberal quantity of sea salt combined with sichuan pepper deep into the skin of the duck legs. i then arranged some crushed star anise, broken cinnamon sticks, light soy sauce, palm sugar and finally some rice vinegar around the duck legs and put them into a pre-heated oven at 120°c.

at this very low temperature the fat inherent within duck slowly renders out into the pan and helps to preserve the bird in a technique called confit of duck. the duck mellowed away slowly for two and a half hours; at regular intervals i basted the skin with the duck fat to ensure the meat didn't dry out. the smells in the chicken were incredible, and i would have happily eaten the resulting duck portions without bothering with the thai red paste if i had been less determined to try out the recipe preselected.

the paste was very easy to create, and then required just heating it up to release the full depth of the spices within. as the duck was already cooked all the recipe required was for the shredded meat and the pineapple chunks to be added to spice paste to warmth it through. my mouth is watering as i write this, with the vivid memory of the smells still bright in my mind.

is it worth waiting for?
as our initial impression of the book thought, this was truly a special recipe. the shredded duck peeled from the outer element of the leg was crisp and crunchy, whilst the flesh closer to the core was moist and delicate. the depth of flavour from the two stages of cooking was evident in every single mouthful; the deep dulcet tones of the red thai paste were contrasted by the sweet high notes of the juicy pineapple chunks. magical.

regards, chris.

from start to plate : 3 hours 45 minutes

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