GRILLED LEMONGRASS DUCK with TURNIPS and PRUNES
Steak with Friends
by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody
I Simply love duck, and find it surprising how few people cook it. Don't be afraid of it— embrace it! It is easy to grill and tastes rich, luxuriant, and just plain wonderful. Duck pairs very well with sweet vegetables and stone fruits such as plums and peaches, which explains why I rely on turnips and prunes here. You probably will have to buy frozen duck, although you may find it fresh at a farmers' market. Frozen duck is fine, as long as it is of good quality. Be sure to score the fatty skin so that the fat will drain during grilling.
• 2 stalks lemongrass, coarsely chopped
• 1/4 cup sake
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 2 scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 4 dried star anise, crushed
• Coarsely ground black pepper
• 4 boneless, skin-on duck breast halves
• Kosher salt
• Turnips with Cinnamon Prunes (recipe below)
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the lemongrass stalks until smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemongrass, sake, olive oil, ginger, scallions, garlic, star anise, and 2 teaspoons pepper.
Trim the duck breasts of any tough connective tissues and using a small, sharp knife, score the skin in a diamond pattern. Lay the duck breasts in a shallow glass or ceramic or other nonreactive dish and pour the marinade over them. Turn several times to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
Prepare a clean, well-oiled charcoal or gas grill so that the coals or heat element are medium-hot. Or, heat the broiler.
Lift the duck breasts from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade with a paper towel. Season well with salt and pepper. Grill, skin side up, for about 5 minutes. Turn and grill for 3 to 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. The breasts should be a deep, mahogany brown and the skin crispy. Let the duck breasts rest for about 5 minutes. Slice the meat into thin slices.
Divide the turnips and prunes among 4 serving plates and top with the sliced duck.
TURNIPS WITH CINNAMON PRUNES
These sweet-tasting turnips and prunes pair well with the Grilled Lemongrass Duck, as well as with just about any poultry or pork dish. I have, at times, substituted plums or another stone fruit for the prunes with excellent results. Fresh fruit does not require soaking.
· 1 cup pitted prunes (about 1/4 pound)
· 2 cups strong, brewed black tea (such as Earl Grey)
· 1 cinnamon stick
· Coarsely chopped zest of 1/2 orange
· 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 3 pounds baby turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
· Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
· 1 onion, finely chopped
· 1 large clove garlic, minced
· 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
· 3 tablespoons soy sauce
· 1 large sprig thyme
In a small saucepan, cover the prunes with the tea. Add the cinnamon stick and orange zest and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. As soon as the tea simmers, remove the pan from the heat and let stand for about 1 hour, or until the prunes plump up in the cooling liquid. Drain, discarding the tea, cinnamon stick, and orange zest. Set the prunes aside.
In a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the turnips and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, or just until heated through.
Add enough water to cover the turnips by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender. Drain the turnips.
In the same or another skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Add the prunes, turnips, stock, soy sauce, and thyme. Stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced and starts to glaze the turnips. Discard the thyme sprig and serve immediately.