Rumor has it that it’s now Spring. I awoke chirping and cheerful. I’m not one to spring out of bed singing, but I did have a spring to my step; visions of sunshine and sunsets. Of flowers, Fiesta, Friday and fun. Buddy bounced happily behind me as I zipped room to room getting ready for work. Ginger languished behind, stretching, doing yoga moves and, most likely, contemplating breakfast. Soon she joined in and followed as we went back and forth, knowing we would soon land in the kitchen, where we would all replenish for the start of a happy Spring day. There would be squirrels for them to bark at as they looked through newly cleaned windows, there would be sunbeams to nap in, and plenty of time to snuggle.
I looked through my journals between sips of coffee to see where I had been on this day in years past. Turns out, I had been eating tuna tartare with blood orange, olives and avocado; seared halibut with mint aioli and beets. I munched on frisée salad with grapefruit vinaigrette flavored with Argan oil; and I lightened a soup of cauliflower with Pernod. This all started me thinking about asparagus and morel mushrooms, artichokes and goat cheese. I will soon find Spring onions and baby leeks, pea vines and sweeter beets.
It’s a good day when there is something to look forward to and something new to celebrate. Like standing in the sun or ending a long work week. Like I said, rumor has it that Spring has sprung.
The thing about rumors, is sometimes that’s just what they are. It must have been a rumor because as we rushed off to work, the air was shockingly cold and there was a layer of frosty ice on the car that was persistent and thick. All I could think of, as I scraped off the windows was, “what the duck?”.
Roast Duck Tacos
Tonight I will be bringing duck tacos to “Fiesta Friday” at Angie’s the Novice Gardener’s fabulous, ever-growing online party.
This is not so much a recipe as it is an explanation of a process. I usually make these when I have made roasted duck legs for dinner, one, maybe two nights before. I always be sure to roast off a few extra legs to make tacos, or wontons, or to garnish a soup.
This is a little like street food and can be packaged cutely (or not) for a party. I eat them quickly, as soon as they are assembled; sometimes standing at the counter, waiting for more tortillas to cook before even serving Tom his first one. They are easy, “Easy like Fiesta Friday” (to the tune of “Easy” by Commodores, written by Lionel Richie, no less). No extra frills or fuss, but they get the job done, always leaving me wanting more (Tom and the dogs agree as they may not have had theirs yet).
INGREDIENTS (quantities, for the most part, are left out because it is dependent on how many tacos you are making).
4 Duck hind quarters or legs
(+/-) 1 tsp each: Sea salt, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin
1/4 tsp 5-spice
Fresh flour or corn tortillas
Black beans, freshly cooked (or canned)
Shredded red cabbage
Diced red onion
Pinch of sugar, sea salt, pepper
Fresh basil, julienned
Finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
COOK THE DUCK
In a 300 degree oven, roast the spices until fragrant. Remove and let cool. Grind in a grinder or manually with a mortar and pestle.
Rinse the duck and pat dry. With kitchen scissors, trim off extra flaps of fat (set aside to render fat for other uses). Season with the ground spices, rubbing them evenly into the meat and under the skin.
On a heated grill pan (or skillet), brown the duck, skin side down.
Shred the duck meat and keep warm.
Drizzle the cabbage with lime juice and toss to coat.
I like to use fresh, homemade tortillas or really good quality, store bought. If you are lucky and live near a taqueria that makes their own fresh (and willing to sell some) go there. I have found a local store that actually sells, fresh, uncooked tortillas which are quite good. It is also easy, but time consuming, to make your own.
If uncooked and fresh, cook off the tortillas (each-side) on a hot, non-stick skillet, until slightly-browned and bubbly. Set aside into an enclosure of kitchen towels to keep warm as the rest cook. Otherwise, heat the tortillas wrapped in damp towel in the microwave for 30 seconds or to whatever method you are accustomed.
Top each tortilla with a sprinkling of duck meat followed by beans, onion, then cabbage. Sprinkle with cheese then scatter over basil. Grab a bite and join the others at Angie’s.