This. Was. Amazing. One of the best things I’ve made in awhile.
I’ve talked about Dudley’s on Short in Lexington, KY. I actually had a VERY similar meal there which I blogged recently (Roasted Duck Breast and Dudley’s on Short). My comment was that it might have been a little sweet for my taste. I also want a little heat in things I make.
My wife doesn’t like duck (or rabbit or beef tongue…). So I either eat it at a restaurant or make it while she is out of town. This weekend she was away on business, so I decided to recreate the Dudley’s meal I had.
I basically made the same meal but here are my tweaks. I did NOT peel the sweet potatoes and it worked out great. The peels got a little crunchy which added something missing from the Dudley’s version. I added more watercress because I like it. Instead of pickled apples, I made a quick faux kimchi out of green apples. The kimchi could not have worked out better. It added more sour and a bit of heat, also something missing from the Dudley’s dish. Finally, because I love bourbon, I made the gastrique my own.
Again, this meal was awesome. The rich duck, the not too sweet caramelized sweet potatoes, the watercress that adds earthiness and slightly wilts under the duck and potato, the crunch and bite of the apple and the sweet and sour punch of the bourbon gastrique. Amazing.
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 bunch of watercress
- 1 large green apple, sliced in thin strips
- Apple cider vinegar
- Bourbon whiskey
- Brown sugar
- Butter / olive oil
- Maple syrup
- Lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- In a seal-able bowl or Tupperware, add the sliced apple, 1/3 apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper to taste (should be spicy). Cover with a little water, seal and shake until combined. Place in your refrigerator and occasionally shake to mix. The longer this sits, the better it will be so you can do this the day before.
- The measurements are approximate but here is my best guess (sorry). In a small sauce pot, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, pinch of salt and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to reduce until you have a desired consistency, 20-30 minutes.
- Set oven to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place the potato in the oven. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until tender. Remove and let them cool slightly. Slice ¼ to ½ inch slices.
- Butter a backing dish, add the potato slices in a single layer, top with olive oil, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a small dollop of butter. Bake about 10 minutes then flip on the broiler for another 5-10 until sugar is melted and caramelized. Keep warm.
- Score the fatty side of the duck breast with cross hatches. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat a medium oven proof pan over medium heat. Even before the pan is up to temperature, place the duck breast in the pan fatty side down. Allow the fat to render slowly. Once the fat has rendered and that side is golden brown, reserve all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat and flip the duck. Continue cooking until browned. Check the temperature, I prefer rare (about 130 F) but the USDA recommends 170 F. If the temperature you want is not achieved, add the whole pan to the oven and continue cooking. Allow the duck to cool and slice.
- To plate, add a layer of the sweet potatoes on the bottom, top with the watercress, top that will the duck and green apple kimchi. Finally, drizzle the gastrique over everything.
Two questions: Don’t you hate when you have your mouth screwed up for something and they don’t have it at the store? Why do we only eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
So, Jen was out of town which usually means I’ll be experimenting with something exotic. I had planned on duck, pork belly or at least something I couldn’t get at the usual grocery. Trying to knock out my todo list for the weekend, I lost all track of time. No time to visit Whole Food or Trade Joe’s. I headed to the next best thing, my local Publix. I had been wanting to try Cornish Game Hen and Publix usually has some. Nope, fresh out! I picked up some pork chops and put them back. I picked up a t-bone steak and put it back. Finally I came across the turkey section. Yes, yes I am certain that your grocer has one as well. It’s first part of June, nowhere near Thanksgiving. How exotic is that, turkey thighs in June? I picked up some spinach that looked especially good and some sweet potatoes.
I ended up making, Seared and Roasted Turkey Thighs, Sautéed Spinach, Whipped Sweet Potato with Fried Sage Pan Jus.
Let me say, I loved this dish. Overall a really well rounded dish. Crispy, tender turkey. Smooth, creamy, sweet, sweet potato. Spicy, fresh spinach. The sauce totally merged each component together. Hat tip to A Sweet Pea Chef. I was looking for a way to cook the sweet potatoes and leave the skin on. Great idea to steam them, then mix in a food processor. Hat tip to me for recycling (uhhh…reusing) the turkey drippings (fat) in the spinach.
- 2 large turkey thighs (skin on, bone in)
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 large bag spinach
- 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Half and half (or heavey cream)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespon crush read pepper flake
- 1 garlic clove sliced thinly
- Chicken stock (or broth)
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh sage
- Cube sweet potatoes leaving the skin on, place in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer you can just boil them in a large pot.
- Meanwhile, set the oven to 400 °.
- In a large skillet or oven proof pan, heat canola and olive oil over medium high heat. Season turkey liberally with salt and pepper. Add turkey to the hot pan and cook until crisp on all sides about 4-6 minutes. Place pan in the oven. Most will tell you to cook turkey to an internal temperature of 175 °. I prefer a little less than that for more juice meat.
- Once the sweet potatoes are tender, remove from the steamer and place in a food processor.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme to the food processor, depending on how much you like. Add about a 1/2 of a cup of half and half with salt and pepper to taste. Add brown sugar.
- Blend sweet potato mixture in the food processor until smooth. Taste and add more cream for creamier, more brown sugar for sweeter or more salt and pepper. Keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Check the internal temperature of your turkey. If the turkey is close to your targeted temperature, pour out a few (I poured out 3-4 and still had 2-3 in the pan) tablespoons of the oil and rendered drippings (fat) from the turkey into the fresh pan that is on the stove. Place turkey back in the oven to finish cooking.
- In fresh skillet add the crushed red pepper flake and let cook in the fat and oil for a minute. I said a tablespoon of pepper flake but just put as much as you like. I like it spicy, and a tablespoon made it very spicy.
- Add thinly sliced garlic and cook for 30 second or so. Add spinach.
- Continually toss spinach in the oil until wilted. Remove from heat.
- Once the turkey is to a suitable temperature, remove from oven. Remove the turkey from the pan and place in a plate to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Place the turkey pan with all the renderings on the stove on medium high heat. When the renderings and oil are hot, add fresh chopped sage. Let the sage fry until it turns dark.
- Add chicken stock or broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir with wooden spoon scrapping up all the yummy bits and reduce the stock by half.
- To plate, as you can see from the above photo, I put down the sweet potato, added the spinach, place the turkey thigh on top then poured the jus over the whole thing.