Monday, November 2, 2015

24. Roast Duck Tacos with Wild Rice Pancake Shells, Red Wine-Cherry Sauce, and Crispy Potato Strips


It's Halloween!  :)  :)  :/  Well.  Not anymore.  I made these tacos on Halloween, but it's November 2nd and I'm just now finishing my post!

I decided to do something special while Steve was giving out candy and simultaneously trying to keep our harmless but crazy dogs from chasing all of the Elsas and Yodas down the street.  Yeah . . .

Anyway, what's special?  What's unusual?  What haven't I done yet?  How about duck?  Yes.  Of course.

I've been thinking of doing a duck taco for a few weeks now.  I have fond memories of a Duck a l'Orange that I made about a year or two ago.  It was a pretty old, classic recipe that I found on Epicurious.  It was delicious!  We had a small amount of leftover duck and I remember making duck tacos (with some kind of chipotle cream sauce the next day).  Wow - what a revelation!  These are not THOSE tacos, but they are pretty tasty.  Since I am dealing with the daunting task of posting 100 recipes in a year, I will more than likely revisit duck tacos at some point . . . along with just about every other taco incarnation one could possibly think of.  If the duck/chipotle idea intrigues you, stay tuned!  It'll probably happen!

As I've already established, this is a special occasion taco.  It takes a long time.  It's kind of expensive.  It makes a mess.  Whatever.  Open a good bottle of wine and don't worry about it!

This was ours:

We belong to the Page Springs Cellars wine club.  You can check out their website here!  If you're in Arizona, or just passing through, I highly recommend stopping by!  They have some delicious wine along with some wonderful food!  We just received our third quarter shipment (which was delayed by our ridiculously hellish weather) and this was the first bottle we opened.  We are getting our fourth quarter shipment in another week or two.  So close together . . . what to do?  SO MUCH WINE!  :)  Ha ha.

By the way, I have no affiliation with Page Springs Cellars except as a customer.  I just like their wine.  And the winery!  This Mourvèdre was great with the duck!

So . . . here's the recipe:

Roast Duck Tacos with Wild Rice Pancake Shells, Red Wine-Cherry Sauce, and Crispy Potato Strips

Makes about 12 small tacos, or 3 to 4 servings


For the roast duck:

One whole duck, about 4 to 5 lbs.
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic, smashed
About 4 sprigs each of fresh thyme, marjoram, and rosemary
1 orange

For the wild rice pancakes:

1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1 cups whole milk
I egg
1 tbsp. olive oil

For the red wine-cherry sauce:

1/3 cup dried sour cherries (sweetened)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp. reserved duck fat
1 tbsp. flour
Reserved pan juices and chicken stock to measure 1 1/2 cups
Juice of half an orange
1/4 cup of reserved garlic and onions from the pan

For the crispy potato strips:

2 medium Yukon Gold (or other) potatoes, approx. 10 to 12 oz.
Canola (or other neutral-flavored) oil for frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped chives, for garnish

Extra dried sour cherries, for garnish (if desired)

1.  Start the duck:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Stir the salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper together in a small bowl.  Cut half of the onion into 3 thick slices.  Place the onion slices in a shallow baking pan (I used a 13x9 glass pan.)  Cut the remaining half of the onion into 4 wedges.  Cut half of the orange into 4 wedges.  (Set the other half of the orange aside to use in the sauce.)  Pat the duck dry and rub inside and out with the seasoning mixture.  Stuff with the onion wedges, garlic cloves, herb sprigs, and orange wedges.  Place the duck, breast side down, on top of the onion slices.

Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh is about 170 degrees.  The time could really vary depending on the size of your duck and the heat of your oven.  Use a meat thermometer!  Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.  Reserve the pan drippings.

2. While the duck is roasting, start the wild rice for the pancakes:  Combine the wild rice, 1 cup water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender.  Drain any excess liquid and set aside.

3.  Start the sauce:  Place the cherries and red wine in a small bowl to soak.  (Since I only needed 1/2 cup of wine and I didn't have another bottle open, I used the Page Springs wine.  O.o  I still regret that decision just a bit!  It was too good to use for cooking!  Feel free to use an everyday red wine instead of the good stuff!)  Set aside.

4. When the duck is cool enough to handle, pull all of the meat off of it.  It's easiest to just dig in and use your fingers!  Do not underestimate this step.  It takes some time.  It's greasy and messy.  I don't know what to tell you.  Do you want duck tacos or not?

5. By this time, the contents of the roasting pan will have cooled a bit.  Use a spoon or fat separator to separate the juices and the duck fat so that you can proceed with the recipe.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of roasted onion and garlic pieces to add to the sauce.

6. Finish the sauce:  Heat 1 tbsp. of the reserved duck fat in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Add the flour and stir with a whisk until fragrant and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Whisk in the pan juices and stock. Add the orange juice.  Add the 1/4 cup of onions and garlic along with the wine and cherry mixture.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.  You could also use a hand blender, but I wanted the sauce to be really smooth, so I used my Vitamix.

While you proceed with the recipe, keep the sauce at a simmer.  You may want to reduce it a bit.  Just keep an eye on it and adjust the heat so that it reduces to the thickness that you prefer.

7.  Place 1/4 cup of the cooked wild rice in a blender.  Set the remainder aside.  Add the rest of the pancake ingredients to the blender and blend on medium speed until fairly smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the reserved wild rice.

8. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.  Cook the pancakes, 3 at a time, using about 3 tablespoons of the batter for each one.  They should spread out to about the size of a street-taco tortilla.

When the top is mostly set and the bottom is lightly golden, flip and cook the other side.  Do not attempt to flip until the top is set!  They have a tendency to stick at first, so be patient!  As the pancakes are finished, stack them on a sheet of foil.

When they are all done, carefully wrap them up and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

9. Prepare the potato strips:  Shred the potatoes with a box grater.  Wrap in paper towels and wring as much liquid from them as possible.  Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Add canola oil to a medium skillet (about 10 inches) until a depth of about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch is reached.  Heat the oil to about 360 to 375 degrees.  If you still have some duck fat that you were able to separate from the pan juices, you can use that in place of some of the canola oil.

10.  Fry the potatoes in 2 to 3 batches:  Sprinkle some potatoes into the hot oil and stir with a slotted (heat-proof) spoon so they don't stick together too much.  

When they are golden brown, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Salt to taste.  Continue this process until all the potatoes are cooked.  Transfer all of the cooked potatoes to a baking sheet lined with fresh paper towels.  Keep the potatoes warm in a 200 degree oven.  

11.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a pancake on a plate and top with a small amount of the duck.  Drizzle with a generous amount of the sauce.  Top with some potato strands, chives, and a few extra dried cherries.  Enjoy!  :)

Well.  This was quite a Halloween!  Ha ha.  It was fun.  The wine was great!  The duck was great!

Did this have to be a taco?  Well, I don't know!  It would have been pretty good as plain old roast duck with some mashed potatoes and salad on the side, but then we wouldn't have The Taco Project.  That's what you get.  Neverending tacos.  Of every imaginable variety . . .

Anyway, I thought they were pretty awesome!  How can you go wrong with duck, cherries, red wine, wild rice, and potatoes?  What a great combination!

Steve couldn't quite get around the fact that they tasted like some kind of traditional holiday meal.  To be more accurate, it went something like this:  "They're really good . . . but . . . they just taste like . . . Thanksgiving."

Ha ha.  Well . . . yes.  They did have a holiday-esque quality about them.  I didn't have a problem with that.

For some reason, he thought they might be better with corn tortillas.  Well . . . OK.  Fair enough.  I'm not sure I agree.  I love the earthy, chewy quality of wild rice.  I think it was a great addition.  If you don't want to make a shell, or if you'd rather have corn tortillas, I'm sure that would work just fine!

Overall, these were definitely doable.  If you like Thanksgiving and you like tacos, well . . . wouldn't it be better to have both at the same time?

Please feel free to comment!  What do you think of this crazy taco idea?  Have you tried it?  Would you ever?  (On Halloween, no less . . . )

Thanks for reading!  :)

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