Monday, September 1, 2008

Kids Can Cook: Roasted Duck Dinner

I'm sure you're well over the "What's for Dinner?" question. I know I've had days where absolutely NOTHING came to mind and I've had to fight the urge to turn to Chef Boyardee. On this particular day though, I drove to the DeKalb Farmers Market with the kids and said, "Pick out something you've never had before." Well that was fun because we ended up with this restaurant quality menu feeding a family of five, for a grand total of $35:

Roasted duck a la pluot with roasted purple and fingerling potatoes and soy glazed long beans.

Sounds fancy, but tasted fantastic. The kids helped with all of the prep and they were talking about this wonderful meal for days to come.

First we "brined" the duck by giving it a salt water bath while we did all the prep. Then we picked the thyme and marjoram from the stem, a perfect job for little 6 year old fingers, as was cutting the tips off of the long beans.

Next we sliced the potatoes into 1" in pieces, something you can definitely trust a 13 year old to do. He also peeled and smashed a couple cloves of garlic (OK more like 6) and peeled and quartered pearl onions. While the kids took care of that portion of the meal, I peeled the pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot) and put them in a pot with ginger, cinnamon, allspice and touch of turbinado sugar. A lot of spices, but I used a very light hand for each of them.

Now we didn't actually COOK anything up to this point because we had to go get our three year old from daycare. So once we got back, I rinsed the duck, seasoned it with the herbs by sticking them under the skin next to the meat, filled the cavity with a lemon, some garlic cloves and hit the entire bird with fresh black pepper and popped that bad boy in the oven (no need to salt it as it'd been in a salt bath for 3 hours).

Next the potatoes were dressed with a little olive oil, salt pepper and the last of the herbs and they went in after the duck had been in the oven about 30 minutes.

Finally I turned on the pot with the pluots so they could cook down, and heated a large pot of salty water to cook the long beans. Once they were tender, I drained them and dressed them lightly with sesame oil and soy sauce.
Yes they kind of look like long green snakes, but I think that's exactly why the kids like them!

About half of the pluots went on top of the duck during the last 10 minutes in the oven and made a nice fruity glaze over the crispy skin. I saved the rest as a fruity natural topping for toasted waffles or French toast (YUM!)

Was it good? Heck, any time you can get your kids in the kitchen AND get them to eat a meal of whole foods that includes vegetables and "new" foods, you're looking at a success. Not to mention our meal was delicious. That duck carcass looked like a swarm of locusts had picked the bones by the time we were done with it! Who say's kids can't cook?


Dragonlife said...

Dear Asata!
Have you ever thought of calling yourself "sexy Chef"? BTW, what does your tattoo represent!
Alright, let's go back to food! LOL
I totally agree with you when you say on your (very interesting) video that the whole parsley should be used. There are many obvious reasons for using whole fresh herbs. You can always point out to those fussy wasting guys that they can always use the stems for concocting delicious stocks and soups.
I assumed you are from Georgia, but your cooking does have have a Creole flavour. As a Frenchman, I' me very interested!
Living in Japan, we recently have witnessed a increasing interest for popular French/Italian vegetables such as zucchini/courgettes and squash, especially here in Shizuoka, a region noted for its all-year vegetables culture.
I've always wondered how to prepare squash (abundant here in at least half a dozen colours!). You definitely have given me great ideas!
Looking forward to visiting again!
Cheers and all that!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Asata, Great blog. You're quite the professional. Me, I only know what I've learned from my mother and grandmother and life experience. I too agree that children should learn to cook at an early age. I believe it teaches them an appreciation for food as the source for nutrients and pleasure. Great post.

asata (a.k.a. Life Chef) said...

Robert a.k.a. dragonlife I hope you read my parsley post. thanks for the reminder in dealing with that. btw I'd love to talk to you about your culinary experiences as a Frenchman living in Japan. The "Creole flavour" you refer too is really a blending of my French training as a chef and my southern heritage as an American. Add to that my affinity for "equitorial cuisine" and there you have it!

asata (a.k.a. Life Chef) said...

hi teresa! I have tons of memories of being in the kitchen with my mom and my grandmother. Without a doubt that's where my love of food began. Thanks for your comment!