Saturday, November 6, 2010

When only duck will do ...

Is there anything tastier in this world than duck fat? I think not. So, when I need a quick fix for my France deprivation, I head to a lovely neighborhood brasserie (for the uninitiated, it's pronounced 'bras-uh-ree') that prepares many menu items with this delicious French staple.

With René Bajeux, one of America’s foremost French Master Chefs, taking the helm as executive chef and a revised menu, our local Brasserie Pavil has stepped up their game with the addition of Duck Confit Shepperd's Pie. The restaurant features all the classic elements that mark a true Parisian brasserie, and now they have won my heart with this sumptuous earthy dish.

Maybe you can't make it to Paris or San Antonio for this authentic comfort food, so why not give it a try at home. This recipe is more of an upgrade of a French dish called 'Hachis Parmentier,' named after Antoine Parmentier who promoted the consumption of potatoes in France and throughout Europe in the 18th/19th century.

Duck Confit Shepperd's Pie

4 confit duck legs
2 lbs (1 kilo) potatoes
2 tomatoes, cubed
4 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp thyme
3/4 cup (20 cl) double cream
3/4 cup (20 cl) milk
2 cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch curly parsley
Salt and Pepper


Shred the duck meat off the bone and reserve it in a bowl. From the tin of duck leg preserve 2 tbsp of the duck fat. Heat up the duck in fat in a sauté pan. Add the shallot and cook until translucent, add the duck meat.

Stir well, then add the cubed tomatoes to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Blend in the thyme, then, leave to simmer a couple of minutes while stiring. Take off the heat and reserve.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Place them in a pot and cover with water. Boil them until tender. Once cooked, purée them using a masher or mixer. Pour the purée in a pan and add the cream and a knob of butter. Stir until butter is melted. Add the milk and stir until you get a smooth mixture. In the meantime pre-heat your oven at 400°F (210°C).

Spread the duck shreds in the bottom of a single baking dish, or several small ramekins (for individual servings), then, cover with a thick layer of potato purée. If you can find it, small crumbs of truffle mixed with the potatoes purée would be great, or if you can’t locate truffles, a drizzle of truffle oil will work too. You can make spread the potatoes to make the surface flat or add the potato puree by mounded dropfuls, then, add the breadcrumbs on top.

Add a couple of cherry tomato halves (skip tomatoes if making individual servings) and parsley to garnish.

Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Voila!

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