Archive for the entrée Category

Duck Confit

Posted in duck, entrée, french fries, slow cooking on 19 November 2009 by restaurant refugee

There is a very short list of culinary things more satisfying than duck confit.  And when I say very short list, I mean I can’t think of anything but I am allowing for the possibility.  It is “low and slow” at its finest and the kind of dish that people believe to be far more difficult than it actually is.  Sadly, most grocery stores no longer carry duck on a regular basis (and almost never carry just the legs) so you need to contact you local butcher or specialty shop.  If you live in the DC area, Wagshall’s is the best around.

Duck Confit

4 duck legs including the thighs (skin off is optional but so much better – reserve the skin to make duck cracklings*)

8 medium shallots

16 cloves of garlic

4 cups of duck fat

Kosher Salt – yes I am being very specific because large grain sea salt will not work properly; kosher salt has the perfect texture.

Freshly Cracked Pepper

Two strips of thick cut bacon


Lay your duck legs on a large slice of aluminum foil and coat each side liberally with Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper**.  Slice two shallots on your mandoline (seriously, you don’t have one of those yet?) and separate the rings by hand placing them on each side of the duck legs.  Smash and dice six cloves of garlic.  Sprinkle the legs with on all sides with the garlic bits.  Arrange the duck legs as closely as they’ll go and wrap the foil around them as tightly as possible.  Refrigerate for at least 24hours but preferably 36.

When ready to cook, melt the duck fat in a sauce pan over a low flame – if you cannot find duck fat, you can use a vegetable oil.  The purists might protest this substitution, but I have made it both ways at the same time for a taste test.  While the duck fat is better, the oil confit is pretty damn tasty too.

Slice and separate the remaining shallots on the mandoline and set aside.  Smash – but do not dice – the remaining cloves of garlic, and set aside.

Remove the duck legs from the refrigerator and brush off the salt and pepper.  A bit of it will still stick to the meat and that is as intended.  Arrange the duck legs closely together, but not touching, in a Pyrex pan.

Pour the melted fat over the duck which must be fully covered for proper cooking.  If using oil rather than fat, heat the oil over a low flame until warm but well below the flash point.  If you have a candy/fry thermometer, use it to get the oil to about 200 degrees.

In one corner of the pan, add the smashed garlic; place the shallots in the opposite corner.  Think little piles of each.  They are intended to flavor the fat/oil and become a dish unto themselves.

Cut the bacon strips in half and place the four pieces them in the fat/oil.  Put the dish in an oven that has been pre-heated to 225 degrees.  Cook for three hours.

Using a slotted spoon remove the garlic and drain any excess.  Remove the shallots and drain excess.  The garlic and shallot confits can be used as a garnish, refrigerated for another time, or my favorite use, spread on toasted baguettes and served as a canapé.  Yes this part is optional but you might as well.

Remove the duck and let it drain/cool just bit before serving.  By the by, this is nearly impossible to over cook which is among the reasons it works so well as a main course for a dinner party.  You should also save the old fat/oil because it can be reused many times over.

I love serving this with Potatoes Escoffier, or the Truffled French Fries from this dish.


* a recipe for another day

** this is a really good reason to have a spice mill or coffee grinder dedicated exclusively to grinding pepper.



Lomo Saltado

Posted in beef, entrée, french fries, tomatoes, upscale peasant with tags , , , on 9 November 2009 by restaurant refugee

I’ve written previously about my affinity for elevated peasant food.  There is no dish that typifies that more than Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish of steak, vegetables, and French fries typically served over white rice.  My take on this dish internationalizes it a bit by marinating the steak in soy sauce and Bordeaux, and serving it over orzo rather than white rice.  The staples are the same.

1 skirt steak

1 large potato

2 medium rip tomatoes

1 serano pepper

1 can of black beans

5 cremini mushrooms

8 peeled cloves of garlic

1 medium ripe tomato

2 medium shallots

1 package of orzo

1 bottle of soy sauce

1 bottle of inexpensive Bordeaux

Canola oil, or another oil with a high flash point

Freshly ground pepper

Using your chefs knife, smash four clove of garlic and give them a rough chop.  Dice one of the shallots and place them in a dish with the garlic and the skirt steak.  Add enough soy sauce and wine, in equal measure, to cover the steak.  Rub the steak vigorously and liberally with freshly cracked perpper before marinating it.  Allow the meat to marinade for at least one hour but preferably two to three hours.

Cook the orzo to within a measure of al dente – there will be another cooking cycle that will finish it.

Cut the potato into French fries of your preferred thickness – I prefer a medium width just a touch larger than McDonald’s fries.  Soak them in water for an hour or so.  Rinse the black beans. Slice the shallots, mushrooms, and cerano pepper, and the remaining cloves of garlic.

Near the end of the marinade cycle, heat the oil to just before the flash point.  Don’t forget to salt the oil.  Place half of the French fries in the oil (placing them all in at once would lower the temperature of the oil too much and prevent the crisping of the potato.) Drain the fries and place them in a large covered sauté pan.  Fry the remainder of the potatoes.  Drain them and place in the sauté pan.

Drain most of the remaining oil so that there is just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic to that pan and cook until softened, add the peppers, mushrooms, shallots, black beans and tomatoes in that order, adding each ingredient when the last is almost cooked. Drain them all to remove any excess oil from the vegetables.  Sauté the black beans and add them to the

There should be just enough oil left in the pan to cook the steak.  Cook the steak for ninety seconds on one side and turn it.  Immediately upon flipping the steak place the pan in a 365 degree oven for five minutes.  Let the steak rest for five minutes before slicing diagonally across the grain.

While the steak is cooking, add the orzo to the sauté pan and heat over medium heat with a pat of butter until all ingredients are equally dispersed and hot.

Deglaze the pan with a cup of wine, add a pat of butter and a heavy splash of cream.  Whisk the mixture until smooth and pour over the orzo-vegetable mixture.  Sauté it until evenly coated.

Serve in bowls and top with pieces of the sliced steak.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Truffled French Fries

Posted in beef, entrée, french fries, short ribs, truffle oil, upscale peasant on 2 September 2009 by restaurant refugee

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Truffled French Fries

I frequently get asked what style of food is my favorite/specialty/whatever.  I am not a fan of answering that question or any favorite question as I find it too general and lacking in context.  If forced, however, I won’t name any country or region, I won’t discuss molecular gastronomy, or culinary towers in tribute to my ego.  I will say that Highly Elevated Peasant Food Executed with Great Care and Sophistication is my specialty.  I love the dish that pays homage to the classic and the homey while still being worthy of fine dining placement.  My Lamb Ragu Pappardelle and Tomato Cream Sauce isn’t exactly like the northern Italian dish that mothers have made for centuries but I’ve proudly served it to some of the most educated palates on my client list and done so to rave reviews.

This Beef Short Rib dish is also a terrific example of my “favorite” style of food.  I could eat this every day for a week and never tire of it, so it was a natural for dinner last Sunday with some friends – and sadly this was the only course I forgot to photograph.


3 tablespoons of canola or other vegetable oil

4-5 pounds of bone-in short ribs

1 large red onion thinly sliced (run through a mandoline is preferable)

2 carrots sliced

4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

2 shallots thinly sliced

1 finger of thyme

2 cups of flour

3 tablespoons of kosher salt

3 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper

1 bottle of dry red wine (I prefer to use a ½ a bottle of Syrah and ½ a bottle of Pinot Noir)

1 cup of Sherry

1 cup of beef stock

3 medium to large baking potatoes

2 teaspoons white truffle oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 quarts of Peanut Oil


Heat the canola oil over medium to medium-high heat, and preheat the oven to 360 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, blend the flour, salt and pepper.  Coat each of the short ribs with the flour mixture and dust away excess.  Brown each piece of meat on all sides until a crust has formed.  Place all of the meat in a Dutch Oven and cover.

Reduce the heat in the pan to medium-low and deglaze the pan with wine.  Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, and onions to the pan.  Cook them until the shallots are translucent (the garlic will be just a touch browned at this point.)  Add the remaining wine to the mixture and reduce the heat to low.  At the simmer point, pour the mixture into the Dutch Oven, add the carrots, cover and place in the oven.  Cook for two and a half to three hours.  Remove the meat, setting aside the bones*, and place in another dish and cover.  Strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan (feel free to spoon some of the onions and shallots from the strainer into the sauce pan and puree with an immersion blender.) Over a low flame add a pat of butter and splash of whipping cream, and stir until slightly thickened.

Julienne** the potatoes and soak in water for at least one hour.  In a large deep pot heat peanut oil*** to 300 degrees (you should have a candy/deep fry thermometer for this) or over medium low heat until a drop of water will “pop.”  Dry the potatoes well and place them in the oil (in batches) until tender (about three minutes) and remove and place on paper towels to drain oil.  Turn the oil up to 360 degrees or medium-medium-high.  Return the fries to the oil until nicely crisped (about two minutes) and remove them for draining.  Place them in a mixing bowl and toss with Truffle Oil, a generous sprinkling of kosher salt, and a dusting of pepper.  Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the fries to serve.

Serve the short ribs and fries on one plate and sauce**** the meat after plating.


* Use the bones to make the stock you’ll need for the next time you make this or any dish requiring beef stock.

** So much easier to do this with a Mandoline – I highly recommend this one for 95% of home cooks.

*** You may not need all of the peanut oil, it will depend on the shape and depth of the pot.  You want to have a depth of at least four inches.

**** You will not use all of the sauce, but it is way too good to toss.  Freeze it because it is way too good to waste.