If it looks like a duck…

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Poultry, Veggies and Sides, Sauces and Such, Supper, Dinner Party, Sources, Posted on November 9, 2014 by Sandy Bergsten

The October issue of Bon Appetit had a feature article on partying like our parents. The take away was that entertaining matters—“that rallying your friends together is essential, that being a generous host is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, and that at the end of the night, it really is worth all the effort.” I couldn’t agree more.

The piece brought up so many memories of my mom’s nouvelle cuisine and dad’s stocked bar. Basically what the article prophesied was that when you entertain that you should pull out all the stops and make something rather complicated because it shows you care. OK now I couldn’t agree less.

But as I turned the pages I was so excited to see the spectacular spread of glazed duck on a parsnip puree with an olive relish and sauce verte. I adore confit, parsnips, olives and prunes. I ripped out the recipes, ran to the store and committed my Saturday to replicating this meal. I religiously followed the recipes and was heartbroken when my kitchen was trashed, my olive and prune relish resembled a revolting soup and the parsnips had enough cholesterol to clog every artery in each of my guests. I punted on the relish, said a prayer for everyone’s veins, and ran my dishwasher for the third time. Of course everyone loved the meal. But I was tired and cranky- needless to say not my best entertaining face.

So I invited another set of guests for the following Saturday and set out to reconstruct this meal in such a way so that it would come out of my kitchen effortlessly.

First off why would anyone confit duck when Grimaud Farms has seasoned legs that are ready for the taking in the poultry section of high-end markets Simply pop the duck confit out of its vacuum-sealed bag and pop into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes until delightfully crisp.

I completely reinvented the olive and prune relish. I have no idea how that BA recipe made it past the test kitchen. I began by quartering ½ cup of prunes.

Tossing them with ¼ tsp lemon zest and one tablespoon of brandy.

Then I coarsely chopped one cup of pitted olives.

Meanwhile I sautéed one finely chopped shallot, two minced garlic cloves and a ¼ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes in three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until just translucent.

Toss with a splash of sherry vinegar. This can be made two days in advance, just cover and refrigerate.

The sauce verte needs to be made no more than two hours ahead of a time. Combine a finely chopped shallot, three tablespoons white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt in a small nonreactive bowl. And let stand for 5 minutes.

Then stir in one third of a cup of olive oil with the chopped parsley, chives and mint. Cover and keep at room temp.

Their parsnip puree recipe was ridiculous. Who poaches parsnips in heavy cream?

I simmered mine until tender in chicken stock.

Then added a little milk and butter.

And pureed until smooth in a cuisinart.

Once cool they can covered and refrigerated for a day ahead of time.

For this reenactment while my guests and I sipped on our cocktails and nibbled on a canapé I popped the duck legs into the preheated 425 degree oven, re-warmed the parsnip puree on 50% power in the microwave, tossed the relish, stirred the sauce verte. Then right in front of them I plated the entire dinner. No one could believe their eyes.

But seeing is believing. Just because it looks like a duck…

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