As a chef, summer is my favorite time of the year. I do not enjoy the weather so much (read: I hate the heat), but I love the gorgeous, unusual fruits and vegetables in the market. This week I couldn’t wait to schlep home my bounty that included one of my summer favorites – the gooseberry.
Gooseberries are similar to currants in their tartness and texture. They come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green to dark crimson. Generally too tart to be eaten from hand, they are delicious combined with sweeter fruits and are an amazing addition to lighter wine sauces.
My recipe for Duck Confit with Gooseberry Sauce (see below the jump) is a dish I will be featuring this week at a wine degustation dinner at Puck’s at Spertus Institute. The sauce is similar to an aigredoux – sweet and sour – but with attitude. It also features one of my favorite shmaltz atlernatives: Duck Fat! Plan ahead if you are going to try this recipe, as kosher ducks are always frozen. You can also serve this sauce with chicken or fish if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Duck Confit with Gooseberry Sauce
For the Sauce
Olive oil or duck fat
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound apricots, unpeeled, pitted and sliced thinly
1-cup fresh gooseberries (no cape)
1 bouquet garni of fresh thyme, rosemary sprig and parsley stems tied with kitchen twine
Salt and Pepper
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or duck fat. Sweat the shallots and garlic until they are soft, translucent and very fragrant. Add the white wine and reduce by half.
Add the chicken stock, apricots and bouquet garni. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are falling apart and have thickened the sauce (about 15 minutes).
Remove the bouquet garni and add the gooseberries. Decrease the heat and continue cooking until the gooseberries are soft but still holding their shape. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper. The sauce may be stored, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
For the Duck
2 ducks cut into 4 pieces each (legs/ thighs attached and breasts). Have your butcher do this or see my description in Jewish Cooking For All Seasons.
2 cups of rendered duck fat or combination of duck and chicken fat
1/4 cup Herbes de Provence
Freshly ground pepper
Place the leg/thigh pieces on a sheet pan or in a shallow casserole. Rub the skin side with the Herbes de Provence. Place the leg/thigh pieces in the refrigerator, unwrapped overnight.
Preheat oven to 200. Gently wipe off the Herbes. Place the duck pieces in a deep pan. Cover the duck with the duck fat. Place the duck uncovered in the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours or until the duck meat is almost falling off the bone and very tender. Gently remove the duck with a slotted spoon. Strain the fat and save it. The duck fat can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Score the skin of the duck breasts to allow the fat to render out. Place the duck breasts skin side down in the pan. Slowly render the fat out of the breasts while pouring off accumulated fat. When the breasts are rendered and the skin is crispy and brown, turn the breasts over and finish cooking for another 6 minutes for medium rare or longer for more well done temps.
Serve the duck confit with the duck breast and the gooseberry sauce with your favorite rice or potatoes.