The Duck Before the Turkey

Braised Duck Breast with Blueberry Ginger Sauce

Braised Duck Breast

Braised Duck Breast

Why food is so comforting to me is historical. At some critical point in my young life, I connected to food during perhaps a high-stress moment and it took off from there…

After dancing the “Barefoot Boogie” I was in the vicinity of a popular Asian market called H-Mart. It was 11 PM or close to that so I wondered if it was still open and if it were, perhaps I might enjoy a crowd-free shopping adventure.  And yes, it was open.  And yes, I had practically the entire store to myself.  I came upon this duck breast – though a bit pricy – looked ultra fresh, so I bought it.

Fresh duck is a rarity here in NYC, I often have to look high and low for it so it came into my orb unexpectedly with little effort on my part. Sometimes it’s nice when decisions are made for you.

After unpacking the breast, it was discouraging to find that there was so much more skin and fat than actual meat. I purchased 2.1 pounds and trimmed and tossed about ¾ pound of the duck skin ($18.99/pound for a total cost of $40.07!)!

Braised Duck Breast

Fresh duck in NYC — rare!

Braised Duck Breast

The breast after trimming some of the skin and fat.

Braised Duck Breast

Very fresh!

Duck is so worth it! It is easy to cook and always tastes good – as long as it’s fresh!

Then I had a pint of blueberries from a couple of days ago and thought that fruit goes so well with various meats like pork, chicken and duck. And blueberries with lemon and ginger – divine!

Braised Duck Breast

Some of the main ingredients. Fresh!

While there are more steps involved than you might normally expect from me, they’re easy steps and can be done ahead. Try it.  It will not disappoint!

Braised Duck Breast

Braised Duck Breast with Blueberry Ginger Sauce

Sauce
Ingredients

Pint of blueberries
1 1/2 C water
2 T sugar
1 T fresh ginger, minced
½ t lemon zest & ½ t lemon juice

Process: add all ingredients to a pot and cook for about 20-30 minutes until some thickening appears.  Allow to cool then puree in a blender and put through a sieve.  Set aside.

Duck
Ingredients

Duck breast – 1 ½ pounds, rinsed and dried
1 t dried ginger
1 T fresh ginger, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ t salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 t Zhenjiang Vinegar (black rice vinegar)

Process: mix all the marinade ingredients together then add to duck and allow to marinate for an hour or more.  In a heated, dry pan, add the duck, skin-side down.  Cover and allow to cook on low flame without turning over for about 12 minutes.  As grease from the duck fills the pan, remove it until the pan is almost dry.  Turn the duck and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes increasing heat.  To brown the skin, turn once more for another minute then remove from heat.  Serve with blueberry ginger sauce and salad or another side such as jasmine rice with peas.

Braised Duck Breast


Repost — Bean Pie, Yes, I Said Bean

Muslim Bean Pie

Bean Pie

I’ve been eating bean pies since discovering them as a teen. I’ve never made one and I’ve never actually found one in a bakery that may have been fresh-baked. The bean pies I craved and ate were from the “Muslim” vendors in Harlem. A few years ago I noticed that the neighborhood Pathmark sold bean pies which was an exciting discovery since they were notoriously hard to find. Even now people I talk to about this dish have either never heard of or tasted it or they find it an unusual element to be in a baked good.
I never thought I’d ever make a bean pie however since playing around with beans in soups, spicy sides with rice, in chili’s, and pureed as humus, sweetening them up for a dessert was a natural progression.
I’ve also been perfecting my pie crust and am envious of those bakers who can make and handle delicate pie dough with confidence and vigor and never, ever tear it (how’d they do that?).
The flavor of this pie was spicy and robust, just the way I like my flavors and it is deceivingly simple to make. If you believe that a bean pie cannot be a delicious treat, think again. I’m here to promote the protein infused bean in this sweet and satisfying dessert!

Bean Pie  Bean Pie Bean Pie

Muslim Bean Pie Recipe   Yield = 2, 9″ shallow pies
Crust
2 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ t salt
6 T butter, cold
4 T vegetable shortening
¼ C ice water
Process
Combine the flour and salt and use a cheese grater to grate the butter and shortening into the flour mixture; mix together to form pea-size grains; add ice water in small amounts while continuing to mix; flour mixture should not be too wet to make it sticky; turn out onto a floured surface, mix until no longer sticking; separate in half and form two small disks; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until filling is prepared.
Roll out chilled dough and place into pie plates; place parchment paper and weights into each to prevent shrinking and blind-bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 F degrees; let cool.
Filling
1 19 oz can Cannellini beans, rinsed (or 1 ½ cans of 15 oz size beans)
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
½ C butter
1 t fresh minced ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
½ t allspice
2 T flour
2 C sugar
2 T vanilla
3 eggs
Process
Place all pie filling ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, may need to do in batches to prevent overflow; pour mixture into cooled, blind-baked pie shells and bake at 350 F degrees for about 55 minutes until filling is firm.

Bean Pie Bean Pie

Some of the comments I’ve received about this bean pie:
From David: It was delicious but a little thick and less creamy than the first one with more of a rich taste. I enjoy eating both just as much as you enjoyed making them for me to eat (ha ha) thank you for that experience of enjoyment.
From Richard and Hope: the pie was very good—I don’t think it was too sweet. But I like sweet so you may not be able to go by me. Hope says there’s a little after taste, but she still likes it. It reminded me of sweet-potato pie but with a slightly different taste.

Bean Pie

A Note About Progresso Beans
I do like to educate myself about the food I put into my body and I have to admit that I’m a bit unsure of the company Progresso and the processes they use to grow their beans. I mention this because their beans are super creamy and tender and I look for them especially when making my vegetarian and turkey chili since no other bean I’ve tried has come close to having a similar texture or flavor. Every successful business has entered the lives of and created a relationship with their customer, I suppose this has occurred between Progresso and myself. I’ve decided to trust their product for now.