To be honest I hate grease. I particularly hate the fact that in cooking grease splatters and then clings to surfaces from stove tops, to ventilation hoods to inside ovens. I go to great lengths to avoid the creation of grease and the inevitable splattering which in turn means in depth cleaning. Actually, it may not be that I do not like grease, I just like cleaning less. In looking at means and methods to cook more cleanly we have come across some exciting dishes and approaches to food.
We had plans to serve a tea smoked duck with a crispy skin for our Chinese inspired dinner. I had partially broken down the ducks and used the legs for another preparation. We left the breasts and skin on the ducks and brushed them with a mixture of soy, honey and water and hung them in the walk in to dry. While the ducks were drying, I began to think about the execution of this dish, particularly the roasting of the duck, the crisping of the skin, the infusion of smoke and the means in which we could serve this dish without overcooking the duck.
Time to rethink. Number one, limit the grease factor. I removed the skin from the duck, blanched it in water and then pressed and dried the skin in a 250 degree oven for about an our. I had nice crispy seasoned skin without the grease splatter. Number two, smoke the duck. We blended rice, sugar and two teas, cinnamon and a black and currant, and placed this mixture into a foil package in our smoker box. We then cold smoked the duck breasts for about twenty minutes with this aromatic tea smoke. We then chilled the breasts down and placed them in bags with butter and cooked them for just over an hour. The result was a tender, smoked and meaty duck with crispy skin and a small amount of grease.
Well, almost. I forgot about the sauteed gai lan we were serving with the duck. We heated the reserved duck fat from rendering the skin in a saute pan and quickly "stir fried" the gai lan. That darn grease got me. Oh well, the gai lan was quite tasty cooked in duck fat and well worth the cleaning in the end. Also, now I have a new project, to saute without splattering grease.
The final dish was topped with a sauce made with horseradish-buttermilk consomme, soy-ginger juice and butter. All in all many lessons were learned and the final approach to duck has now been integrated into our repertoire.