Progressions on a Theme

Duck & Mushroom Risotto

Woodland Flavours

Today I stripped the carcass, separating the meat from the bones and the skin. Of course, these will become stock, but I have something specific planned for this, of which more later. I also found an escapee clove of garlic, nestled in the back of the cavity. Roasted garlic is so good, there was no way that I was going to let that go, and it will only add to the flavour of today’s dish.

So, to a risotto, but this time I wanted to develop the flavour with earthy base notes of woodland and wild mushrooms, building the flavour layers as I went, instead of making a simple white risotto, and adding the flavour at the end.

You can dry your own mushrooms or buy them. If you were going to buy them, I would suggest porcini mushrooms. I was lucky, the Big Guy’s sister had been out in the woods and taken the trouble of gathering and drying the most amazing chanterelles and trompettes des mort. I got a jar full as a present, and I love them. I love that someone has taken the care to go and forage for them and preserve them, and I really love that she also knew that I would love some of them.

Dried mushrooms, particularly of the chanterelle variety, have a really deep, almost woody quality,and I knew that they would be perfect with this duck, and would help layer the flavours, as I could soak them, then add the soaking liquor to the stock.

Then I started thinking about red wine, but decided that a better match would be sherry. I only had the Pedro Ximénez that we bought for the sherry trifle, so I knew I couldn’t use a lot of it, for fear of making it too sweet. But it all builds up.

This has all the earthy richness that I wanted, given that the weather has taken a turn for the colder, despite it being spring.

Recipe: Duck and Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

10 g dried mushrooms

400 ml boiling water

A little oil for frying

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Bay leaf

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 roasted garlic clove, mashed

4-5 sprigs thyme

200 g arborio rice

Splash Pedro Ximénez

500 ml chicken stock

150 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

200 g cooked duck meat

2 knobs butter (to be used separately)

75 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Sweat the onion in a little oil, until translucent. Add both types of garlic and the thyme and bay, and allow them to sweat together.

Meanwhile, drain, and squeeze out the dried mushrooms, but do not discard the water that they were soaking in. Roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms, and add them to the sweating vegetables.

Carefully pour the liquid that the mushrooms had been soaking in to the chicken stock, and warm them both on the hob. No matter how carefully the mushrooms were cleaned before drying, there will probably still be a bit of grit or debris in them. When you add the mushroom stock to the chicken stock, don’t pour the grit in. It is easy to see, and is heavier than the stock, so it is easily to avoid if you pour the stock in carefully, and maybe leave the last few ml, which will have the most grit in it.

Add the rice, then follow the method for the basic risotto. You will be developing some big, earthy mushroom flavours, by adding the rehydrating mushrooms, and using the mushroom stock. However, the duck can take it.

So, while the risotto is cooking down, fry the sliced chestnut mushrooms over a low heat with a little more thyme, and a little salt.

When you feel that the rice is nearly ready, add the duck meat, and the now cooked mushrooms with the last half ladle of the stock that you need. This will heat the meat without it going tough, and will help to bring the flavour of the chestnut mushrooms into the dish.

Once the last lot of stock has been absorbed, add a knob of butter and the parmesan, then season with a little salt and a lot of pepper. Finally, stir through the parsley, and serve with a peppery salad.

Not only is this risotto a great way to use up leftovers, but it is really earthy, with the mushrooms and the duck packing a real punch. Leftovers done like this really are not humble, and nor should they be.

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