The holidays are coming and so are elegant holiday parties. If you would you like an hors d’oeuvre as fancy as your holiday dress, try these Kona Braised Duck Tacos from Chef Kevin Barthelemy of Elevated Catering.
The shredded duck is rich and moist and infused with the traditional holiday spices of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg with a boost of Kona coffee. The flaky meet is topped with a bright and crisp salad of apple and jicama. All this is cradled in a crunchy mini taco.
His original recipe called for a whole duck that would feed a large event. Because whole duck is sometimes hard to come by, and most parties are much smaller, I’ve modified his recipe using two duck breasts, which are available in the freezer section of Whole Foods.
It’s a long recipe, but it really isn’t difficult at all. And once you’ve made them, the second time will be a breeze. The most time consuming hands-on portion is the making of the mini taco shells. You can bypass that step, however, and serve your taco meat and salad on a sesame cracker.
I’ve tested the recipe twice, and it’s absolutely delicious. It also aromatizes your house with heady spices just in time for the guests. That’s two birds with one stone, so-to-speak.
Don’t feel you can only use this duck meat on a taco. Feel free to serve it on rice or quinois and drizzle with the extra sauce.
FOR THE DUCK
2 6 oz. duck breast, Bell & Evans brand, thawed
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
2 tsp clove, ground
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
2 tbls vegetable Oil
1/8 cup garlic, minced
1/8 cup ginger, minced
½ stalk lemongrass, minced
1/2 onion, rough cut
2 carrots, rough cut
1 orange, quartered
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup brown sugar, light
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup Kona Coffee, brewed from fresh grounds
2-3 qts water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub the duck with a generous amount of the salt, pepper, and spices. Roast for 20-25 minutes, fat side up, until it is a deep golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, sauté the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass on medium-low to medium heat in vegetable oil. Stir occasionally until light brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer.
Turn oven down to 275 degrees.
Remove breast from oven and drain any excess fat from the pan. Return breasts to pan, fat side up. Transfer liquid to the roasting pan with the duck (the liquid should come up 2/3rds of the duck). Cover and cook for at least 4 hours until the meat easily flakes. Carefully flip the duck and allow it to rest in the liquid, at room temperature, for one hour.
Remove the duck to a separate dish and strain the braising liquid to a clean saucepan. Reduce the braising liquid by 1/2 on medium to medium-high heat or until sauce consistency, making sure to skim any excess fat that floats to the top.
Remove the fat from the duck. Pull the meat into fine threads and reheat in the finished sauce.
FOR THE SLAW
½ cup jicama, julienne
½ cup green apple, julienne
½ cup carrot, julienne
2 scallion, sliced thin on bias
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
2 tbls honey
2 tbls apple cider vinegar
3 tbls vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper
flakey sea salt
Whisk together the honey, vinegar and oil and lightly toss with the julienne vegetables and apple. This can be done up to 20 minutes before service. Finish with scallion right before service. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
FOR THE TACOS
Soft Yellow Corn Tortilla, 6 Inch
Ring Cutter, 2 Inch
Taco Fryer, (available at restaurant supply stores like CRESCO)
Fry Oil, as needed
Heat oil to 350 degrees. Cut tortillas into 2″ circles (you should get 3 rounds per tortilla). Arrange into taco fryer and fry until lightly golden. Remove from oil and cool on a dish with brown paper towel to drain any excess grease.
OPTION: skip the tacos and serve on round sesame crackers
PRESENTATION: shredded napa cabbage provides colorful and structural support for the tacos
Patricia Bainter is a blogger and writer for 303magazine. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu London and shares her culinary musings and recipes at her own website ThePatricianPalette.com. Photos by Mark Woolcott Photography.