Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rainy Day Ride and a Recipe

Today was rainy.  The girls were a little stir crazy after dinner tonight, so the Daddy brought in their wagon for a little ride.

They thought this was just about the coolest thing.  Then it broke, and they had fits.  But we colored and read books and did puzzles the rest of the night, and all was well.

On a totally unrelated note, several weeks ago I posted about my last "Chopped" ingredients.  If you recall, these were Duck breast, Avocado, and Gouda cheese.  I used the ingredients to make dinner a couple of weeks ago and have forgotten to post about it.  I made Duck and Gouda Hoagies with Avocado Spread.  I didn't write down the recipe, thinking I would post about it while it was still fresh in my memory.  I have a pretty good memory, but this one might be a little fuzzy.

My ingredients:
4 duck breasts, skin removed
1 avocado
Gouda cheese, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
Maybe one or two cloves of garlic?
About a half cup of dry white wine
Hoagie Buns
One apple (optional)

I started by slicing the duck breasts crossways into about 1/2 inch-thick pieces.  Then I dried these, sprinkled them with salt and pepper on both sides, and coated them with flour.  I heated my pan over medium high heat, added about a tablespoon of oil, and put in the first batch of duck pieces.

I browned the duck pieces on both sides, then removed to a plate and continued with the other pieces in batches (adding a bit of oil with each batch).

After I got all the duck pieces cooked and set aside, I put the shallot in the pan to soften.  I can't remember if I added a couple of pressed cloves of garlic after the shallot was soft.  I think I did.  If so, I would have waited until the shallot was soft, then added the pressed garlic and stirred it around until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Then I added the wine and scraped all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  I let this reduce a few minutes.  Then I put this mixture into the blender with the avocado, some mayo and some salt and pepper and tried to puree it to a really smooth texture.  I should have used my Magic Bullet, because the blender didn't do a very good job of pureeing the small pieces of shallot.  So, the final outcome of this avocado-mayo spread was a little lumpy.  While I was working on this spread, I preheated the broiler, put some duck meat into a each of two hoagie buns, topped it with slices of gouda, and put it in the oven.  Once the cheese was melted, I pulled them out, put the avocado spread on the top of the bun, and it was done.  I should have used a lower heat to melt the cheese, because my buns ended up getting burned, but the result was still good.  I also should have toasted the buns beforehand, because the bottom bun was a bit soft relative to the super crispy top bun.  Oh well.  I was in a hurry...

On my hoagie I put slices of apple, which I thought added a crunch and sweetness that was very yummy.  My husband is not a fan of apples on sandwiches, so I left them off his.

This was a successful meal, if not the most dazzling thing I've created.  The best part was the way I cooked the duck.  I relied on a strategy learned partly from my dad and partly from my cooking class in coating the duck with flour.  This really helped to hold in some of the moisture and the result was very flavorful, tender, and moist duck meat.  Score.  The least successful part of the dish was the avocado spread.  It ended up a little bland, and the chunks of shallot didn't do anything for it.  If I made this again I would probably skip the shallots and pan deglazing all together and just use the avocado, some mayo, and some fresh herbs, maybe a little lemon or lime juice to brighten the flavor of the spread and keep it smooth.  My apologies for the haphazard "recipe."  This is the best I can recall, several weeks later.

My husband has been working nights for the past two weeks, so we have been neglecting to select the ingredients for my next challenge.  Tonight is his last night to work (hooray!!), and we finally remembered to choose the goodies.  What did I end up with?  Tuna (canned), Panko bread crumbs, and Tomato paste. I already have a good idea what I'm going to do.  If it works, I'll try to bring you that recipe with a bit more precision.

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