Or in normal speak: Duck à l’orange. An absolute classic given a little twist.
I steamed 2 sweet potato, 2 red skinned potato called a ‘rooster’ here. I part cooked the duck with a whole orange inside.
Squeeze the juice and pulp. Chop a bit of peel from the cooked orange. Add: some fresh dill, a tablespoon of honey, an egg yolk, a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch). Mash with the potatoes and stuff in the duck cavity.
Another sprinkle of Chinese five spice over the skin and a few slices of orange on top.
Then back in a hot oven for another hour. Total cooking time two hours.
The orange sauce was a cup of good smooth fresh orange juice with a big dash of sherry and half a chicken stock cube (or equivalent.) Heat until thickened, taste and add sugar or salt as needed.
Scoop out the mash and serve with steamed buttered Kale.
Tear off the legs and carve the breast from the bone. Serve a few slices of fresh orange on top.
There is a reason this is a classic – it’s supremely satisfying.
This time, two dishes with a Farmed Rabbit. Starting with ‘Brilliant Blattered Bunny Burger’.
I should perhaps explain the Bunny thing. In one of my novels in the Daniel Series, the three main characters Daniel, Lauren and Bonny go to a restaurant called Le Turbe near Menton on the Cote de Azure. Daniel orders his favorite dish, Lapin aux Truffeles.
The text: Lapin aux truffles. Rabbit with truffles seems simple enough but there were depths to this dish that delighted him more than any other he had experienced in a restaurant. As he was about to read the menu, Bonny rather unkindly teased him by saying, “Why waste your time with that when you know you are having dead fluffy bunny with expensive fungus as usual? Listen DD, why not let me loose on garçon. and I will see if I can sweet talk them into letting you go into the kitchen to see their mystery. Put yourself out of your own misery. I’m getting sad listening to you cussing over the pots as you try to reproduce this brilliant buggered-bunny banquet.”
When he had finished laughing, Daniel agreed and Bonny wafted over to the chief-waiter with her charm motor in overdrive. She came back five minutes later looking very serious. After keeping them waiting while she finished her aperitif she said, “OK, that was like pulling teeth, but you are on. I have to come with you to translate and let the chefs ogle my glories and I had to swear ten oaths to the great Gallic God Larouse that you are not in the business and bent on robbing their famed specialty.”
“Praise be to the sainted Larouse, your French and the glories that are your titties, Bonny-Ann. I shall give praise and anoint the glories in humble and craven thanks later at a sanctified place of worship.”
Lauren nearly choked on her
amuse-buche laughing at this exchange. Soon they were all having trouble
keeping their laughter to socially tolerable levels as the giggle infection
As they drove down to Menton after,
Bonny played back the Dictaphone Lauren had given her to record recipe notes
and Daniel sighed and hummed his satisfaction, but typically thorough in his
concern for gastronomic perfection said, “Where the hell am I going to get my
hands on carefully farmed rabbit back home? Maybe I’ll get a few and a hutch.”
“Like hell you will. The children
would adopt them and never speak to you again when you blatter their bunnies to
death and they’d turn veggie on the spot.”
My daughter is
vegan and would be appalled at this recipe, but I am an unreconstructed carnivore
and love rabbit. This uses French farmed bunny, just like in the novel. I made
two dishes with it so extracted maximum value from its sacrifice.
The meat from legs and belly was minced with two pork sausage, a handful of dried apricots, fresh papaya, some fresh breadcrumbs, shallots, a few mushrooms, garlic and fresh sage. This mixture made the patties. I sealed them in pan first, then wrapped them in American style maple bacon and finished in the oven. Served with kale, piped mashed potato and topped with a sauce made with papaya and orange juice.
It was delicious,
even if had no truffles!
Next day the
bones and bits went into a stockpot to make the essential thing for a Spanish mountain
paella – good stock.
This paella uses the saddle of the rabbit, and frozen escargot in parsley and garlic butter. In the Serria Nevada mountain region of Catalan Spain, they use these rather than the usual chicken and seafood. I’ve had it there, but think my version is better.
I cooked it on the little stove and added some scallops and shrimps to the fried rabbit and picked snails. A good splash of sherry was added to the stock. Veg was mushrooms, carrots, peas, broad beans. The pan was left on the heat until the paella rice had formed a good crust on the bottom. It was served with a few glasses of sherry.
I read about food a good deal and love the books of people like Elizabeth David and Anthony Bourdain. Those writers talk food with passion and inspiration. I’ve been thinking about food in fiction and realized that I can think of few novels I’ve read that feature food in any significant way.
There was Portnoy’s Complaint, in which the horny protagonist used raw liver in a wholly new way to me!
Ian Fleming used it in the Bond novels as a crude way to display Bonds supposed good taste. However it tended to major on obviously excessive and expensive consumption. Expense taking precedence over any real worth. Caviar and Bollinger feature a good deal. Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer displayed a certain usefulness with the pans and could do a good omelette. Deighten choose to make him a kind of educated working class hero to Bonds upper class officer type and the choice of food was a great tool in showing that contrast.
I use food in my novels too, all of them feature it. It’s used to give characters depth and in particular it’s used to give men credentials beyond their fists and fighting skills. Food can be a great tool as a wooing aid. Seduction can start with a good meal and if that meal is prepared with care and love by the man and precedes a bout of heterosexual excess in bed or on rug before a fire, that leaves the heroine panting for more, more food and loving – then we have a hero that’s got dimension and depth. Sensuality extends to appreciation of more than one kind of skin. I like a hero that knows his way round a woman’s curves as well as he knows his wines and cheeses. He can wield a knife to fillet a salmon, joint a chicken or the baddy with equal dexterity.
Somehow, good food self prepared rather, than simply bought is more meaningful. My Daniel cooking up a Provencal rabbit and truffle stew before a night of excess with Bonny, is sexier than Bond buying Beluga.
(The image: Hostellerie Jérôme at La Turbie on the Cote-D-Azure serve this: Pigeon(Squab) with foie gras and cepes. I’ve tried to reproduce dish’s like this often.) Continue reading →