I admit, I wasn’t too sure about the recipe.
I again had a collection of ingredients that I wanted to use this evening, and a few ideas about how to use them, but I hadn’t really settled on anything definitive.
Duck breast, pomegranate, fresh figs, persimmon, chestnuts, Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes (new for me) – “Topinambur” in German. All really nice fall flavors and tons of potential. I especially wanted to try the duck breast and chestnuts together.
But then, at around 5:30 pm, just as I was about to start mincing the meat, my sister Amy called. And after brief conference, convinced me that the recipe I had been doubting all day (braised duck and chestnut meatballs), was a really bad idea. “Sounds mealy,” she said, which was enough to turn me off of them just thinking about the word “mealy.” So we went through my ingredients and various combination possibilities and then just chatted for awhile. And then at around 6 pm I was on my own again with the pile of food.
But in fact, things got much simpler suddenly. I marinated the breast in 5-spice powder, some soy sauce, a glug or two of red wine and a drizzle of honey.
Let some wine and shallots reduce for 10 minutes in a pan and then tossed in the figs and a little butter to thicken it up into a sauce.
Chopped up an herb and fall fruit salad – lovely persimmon, pomegranate, parsley, cilantro, mint, and dressed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, a squeeze of orange and lemon juice.
Crisped the duck on the stove for 3 minutes and then shoved it into the oven to bake for another 10.
And sauteed the Jerusalem artichokes for a subtly sweet starch to prop up the duck.
Out it came – the components all perfect compliments to one another. This one is a repeater. Thanks to Amy for stopping me from probably ruining the duck and having to eat 16 mealy meatballs.
For dessert, I went with a favorite that I have eaten before but never made myself. Fresh membrillo – a Spanish delicacy made from quinces. I bought a kilo of very ripe quinces yesterday and let them boil for awhile, adding sugar half-way through, then taking the jam out of the pan and drying it in the oven for around 2 hours. In the end, you get a ruby-orange sweet and firm jelly that you can slice, which when paired with a Spanish Manchego cheese and a garnish of basil, is divine on a cracker.
It’s no Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal, but when I thought about it, and considered how long I would need to repeat it, (minus the membrillo), I think I could have done it in about 40 minutes. So Jamie, I think you need to make a video of this one and distribute it on iTunes and cut me in on the profits. 🙂