Eating Nose to Tail


 
Even though my roasted duck didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped that's no reason I can't create a masterpiece out of the leftovers.  A big pot of duck soup with some fresh veggies and soba noodles.

Homemade stock is one of the coziest things that can ever come out of a kitchen.  The smells and the warmth totally engulf the entire house, and you get another entire meal out of the carcass of last nights supper.
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I put the leftovers from last night straight into a pot, which sat in my fridge all day waiting for me to come home.  Once I got home I simply added the veggies I had on hand (a chili pepper, a sweet pepper, some celery, a few garlic cloves, a few peppercorns, half an onion, a sad piece of ginger and the daikon sprouts off my plate from last nights supper) and covered the entire mess with cold water.

Turn the heat to medium-high and wait an hour or two.  Generally the longer you simmer the stock the better it will be, but I've really only got the wings and carcass of my duck.  The legs are going to go in later to loosen up, then I'll shred the meat and add it to my finished soup.
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When the stock is done I drain and discard all the veggies and the bones.  If you're feeling particularly zealous you can strip the meat from the neck, and also test the gizzards to see how tender they are.  If they're really tough you can slice them thin and poach them in the stock again.  This is also the point where you want to taste and season your stock - don't be afraid, it can take a lot of salt.
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Sliced gizzards, bottom right.
I love to add a few nice crisp veggies to my final dish, so I also like to poach some broccoli and peppers (or whatever you've got) in the broth before I add my noodles.
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Once your stock is drained and seasoned, your veggies are poached, and all your meat is shredded and ready you've just got to cook the noodles and assemble the soup.
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The flavour is wonderful, much richer than chicken stock.  And I seem to have stumbled onto something excellent with the combo of veggies I used.  I think it's the lack of carrot, a totally over rated stock veggie if you ask me.  This is some seriously rich, complex, ducky goodness.  A completely new, awesome, meal made out of what's in the fridge and the bones of Sunday dinner. 
 
 
Ducks are a truly wonderful creature, right up there with pigs in my book.  I've been meaning to roast a duck forever, and last night I finally got around to it.

This duck came from my local Asian grocery.  It seemed a little small (very different from the plump European style duck that I'm more accustomed to) but in my mind it seemed perfect for two people. 
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The cavity of my duck was stuffed with all sorts of lovely giblets; a nice big neck, a couple gizzards, heart and liver.  Some of those bits are destined for duck soup, but the liver is getting marinated then sauteed in duck fat as a special treat.
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Simple is the way to go when roasting a duck.  Poke holes in the skin to allow the fat to drip out, and use more salt than it looks like you probably need.
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Into a waiting 325 degree oven, which I checked every 15-20 minutes.  Once it started to brown I made a quick glaze (honey, sriracha, soy) and brushed it all over.  The duck went back into a now 425 degree oven to finish crisping.
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I served just the breast, which to be honest was not enough.  The breast was thin, and not quite juicy enough, and the skin was not the desired level of crisp.
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Alongside some sticky rice, steamed bok ckoy and some daikon sprouts it was a pretty good dinner.  Definitely room for improvement, which is never a bad thing because that means there is more duck in my future.
 
 
Due to my total obsession with getting my thesis done, my partner Ross has been doing more than his fair share of the cooking.  His most recent dish is jambalaya, which he makes with sausage and okra. 

Recently Ryan Adams in his Offal of the Week post for Eat Me Daily wrote about gizzards.  Sausage, okra and gizzard jambalaya immediately came to mind, even though I had never actually cooked a gizzard.  A container of chicken gizzards at my local big box store cost $1.00 and were very easy to locate.  Finding the gizzards was the easy part, next came cooking.

After looking into some recipes, these tough little pieces of fowl obviously needed to be cooked for a long time.  The gizzard is a muscle in the neck of most fowl that is used to pulverize their food, (most fowl do not have teeth) and because they are doing the work of teeth they get to be pretty tough.  My solution: braising.

The plan is to add the already braised gizzards to the jambalaya with the sausage and okra during the final cooking stages.  Therefore the gizzards needed to be braised by the time they were added to the jambalaya.
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First I rinsed the gizzards under cold water to clean off some of the blood.  Then with a sharp knife I cut the gizzards into smaller pieces.  Gizzards often come intact, which means they are shaped like an 'O', I separated the knobs of meat into smaller bundles.  My idea was that this would allow the gizzards to cook faster.
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Next, I seasoned them with coarse salt and some cracked black pepper, and added the seasoned gizzards to oil heated in a dutch oven. Once they were seared I added a mug of water and a few dried chilis.  Tragically I had no stock on hand.  Once my liquid was up to a gentle simmer I covered the whole mess with a lid and it sent in a 325 degree oven.

An hour and a half later the gizzards were tender.  I placed the gizzards and the now flavorful cooking liquid in a container to wait for Ross to cook his jambalaya.
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Ross was adamant about tasting any additions I wanted to put in his jambalaya.  He found the gizzards a tad livery but mild enough to be an acceptable addition to his dish.  I think the gizzards tasted far more like a chicken thigh than any liver I had ever tasted. 
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Dinner was delicious.  The sausage and okra were a perfect pair as usual, and the gizzards seemed to slip pretty easily into the mix.  I'm looking forward to getting back to eating nose to tail more regularly.  I miss my kitchen terribly and Ross is quickly becoming a better cook than me, which distresses my ego.

I would heartily recommend trying out braised chicken gizzards, I have a feeling they would crisp up nicely in a pan with some oil after they're braised.  Experiments for another post.