Monday, November 1, 2010

An Evening Outside with Duck and Chestnut Wild Rice

A week ago, Pootie scored some fresh chestnuts at the Farmer's Market.

Now charged with the duty of finding something to do with them, I accepted the challenge and posted on Twitter and Facebook for ideas. And then promptly forgot about it.

A week later, they were still here. Sitting on the counter, taunting me.

" You call yourself a cook? Bah! We mock you!"

But then the weather cooled off, I had some free time, and my attitude adjusted. I had some nice duck breasts and some wild rice, so I decided to roast those puppies and figure out some way to incorporate them in the side dish. So I made the little cross-hatch in the top, and put them in the oven at 425F to roast for about 20 minutes.

Then I shelled them. It's a good thing I had the aforementioned free time. That's just a little fussy.

Is it me, or do they look like little brains?

"Braaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnssssss....!" (Why did they bury that poor woman in her nightgown?)

I suppose it was appropriate, since it was almost Halloween.

They didn't taste like brains, though. They were nutty and sweet, kind of like Pootie.

Um... my hands are usually beautifully manicured, but shelling these things destroyed them. (Yeah, right. Well, at least they're clean.)

I thought some roasted butternut squash would be good in there as well, so I split a small one and drizzled it with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Roast these bad boys at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until they're a little browned and soft all the way through.

While the squash roasted, I cooked brown basmati and red rice, using chicken stock instead of water. Tastes better. Toward the end of the cooking process - in the last ten minutes, I added 1 cup of peeled and diced Granny Smith apple. It cooked down completely and gave the rice a nice, sweet-tart flavor.

Meanwhile, I salted and peppered two duck breasts and put the cast iron skillet on the grill set to about 500.

Then I joined Pootie and Dinky for a little sit-down by the fire.

(Don't get too comfortable. We still need to make a salad and some sauce for the duck. Come on back in. I'll pour you a glass of wine.)

Back inside, I washed some nice greens I got from Christin and Dave at the Farmer's Market that morning. A few extra chopped chestnuts, some dried cherries, some soft cheese and a maple-orange vinaigrette made that a pretty good first course.

The sauce was a little garlic in butter, then simmered in red wine and apple juice, and reduced.

To finish off the rice, I added the butternut squash, chopped chestnuts, and some sauteed shallots.  The duck went in the hot skillet, flipped, then off lickety split. I like my duck on the rare side. Here is the .pdf of the rice, if you'd like.

I know. I could have plated the food prettier. But I wanted to get back outside.

To this.

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