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Critique - Seared Duck Breast, Pureed Parsnips, Asparagus

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Okie Dokie, let's hear it....what would you guys have done differently.

My Prep...(I like to prep everything before cooking as I'm not that quick yet)

I only used the sides, not the center of the parsnips.

I salted, 5-spice, and peppered both sides, then put them fat side down in a cold pan, and turned the heat on to low.

in the mean time, I did my dessert (no finished pics till will spoil your dinner!)

After about 15 minutes the fat was rendering I put on high.....seared, then flipped....

Took some of the fat, put it in a pan with the parsnips....

sauteed, then put in a saran covered bowl in the nuke for about 5 minutes....

while the other side cooked...and I threw in the asparagus with a little sliced garlic.

Took the breasts out (at 130-135ish), to rest......and threw some shallot in for a second or 20, then deglazed and reduced with some red wine..(zin)

while it reduced, I pureed the parsnips, (added almost a cup of water, a little olive oil, seasoned a little)

(color is much whiter than in the pics, don't let it fool you.)

added about a half a stick or more of butter....

sliced the breasts (nicely rested), plated, added a little nutmeg on top the parsnips,

then had dessert...

It was excellent, really really good. Only thing I thought could have been better was the pan sauce.....and maybe a lemon in the steamer. Thanks to BDL for helping me out!

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post #2 of 15

For the little I did, you are very welcome. You decided to go with the puree after all. Good choice, you were right.

Red wine reductions are problematic. They tend to get bitter unless you use stock or do some other form of remediation and/or keep temperatures down -- which kind of defeats the whole rhythm of a pan reduction. Port, Madeira, Marsala, rum, cognac, or a fruit liqueur would have been easier choices. With the asparagus and all, I would have gone Madeira.

See if you can't find something inexpensive and good for cooking like San Antonio Madeira (California, around $5/bottle!) in your area. If you can't, keep a bottle of another off-dry like Florio Dry Marsala (Sicily, $10) around, along with a bottle of inexpensive Amontillado sherry like Tesoro (Trader Joe's). They're not exactly quality tipples, but these wines will pull your butt out of many a sling when doing pan reductions.

For whatever reason, red wine reductions became quite popular during the late eighties and through the nineties. Maybe something to do with the increasing number of oenophiles -- easy to pair the dish with a wine, perhaps Quien sabe? Quien darse el culo de un raton? *Who knows? Who cares?")

I don't cook on Wednesday because of a regular meeting in the late afternoon, and Wednesday is $1 Pupusa day at Sabor de Mis Pueblas -- a very high-toned Guatemalan/Mexican place. So, I stopped and brought home tacos de tripas and pupusas de loroco for dinner. Eat your heart out.

Hope you reserved the duck fat. Spuds tomorrow! Say, "hi" to NRatched.
post #3 of 15
I'm not that fond of parsnips, so I would have chosen something different, perhaps some mushrooms and pearl onions sauteed in the duck fat, or sweet potatoes with a bit of ginger to complement the 5 spice on the duck.

The duck looks great, but where'd you get those silly little dessert spoons :lol:

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #4 of 15
Well done Mac! Technique technique! :) Now go buy some demiglace and keep it in the freezer.
post #5 of 15
Looks really nice. Only thing I would have done differently would be to pipe the parsnip puree thru a startip pastry bag for eye appeal. As far as sauce everyone has different tast I might have added a squeeze of fresh orange to counteract sweetness of pineapple or possibly a shot of good balsamic then reduced slightly. Also someone mentioned silly dessert spoons? what you used are not dessert spoons but are soup spoons used with oriental cuisine.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

BDL - The zin was left over from NRatcheds dish the night before, and since it's tough to drink zin in the heat, I figured....hey, why I know why not ;) hahaha.

Teamfat - as mentioned by ed, those are Asian soup spoons, but they work well for amuse bouche's and such, it was actually the highlight of the evening, no other spoons necessary, NRatched said after taking a little of each right from spoon "this is WAY better than eating a creamsicle!!!" p.s. those spoons are from crate and barrel like 2$ a pop. the "actual" amuse bouche spoons they sell for 19$ a set are polished stainless i believe....and just...are not good looking. I wouldn't want to eat off those.

Ed - thanks, next time I'll give it a try piping it out. For the parsnips, I was trying (and think I did OK) to replicate what/how it is served at our favorite restaurant. I think I could have added a little more liquid to them to make them a little "smoother" as well.

some questions:

- When pureeing the parsnips, I cut it with about a cup or more of water....could I have substituted anything else? perhaps a white wine?

- Asparagus (ok I know...silly question) but is it best to steam cut, or whole...and when cut like I did, what is the best, most presentable way to cut them. Of course serving whole would be nice, but don't think it would have looked good on the plate like that.

would any of you have plated differently?

I really love the feedback.
post #7 of 15
[quote- When pureeing the parsnips, I cut it with about a cup or more of water....could I have substituted anything else? perhaps a white wine? [/quote] You don't want to fight with the red wine on the plate or the wine in the glass -- so wine would require some consideration. I frequently use Vermouth for cooking, which wouldn't have been a good choice. Some sort of Alsation or Traminer maybe -- but not with that duck sauce.

Milk or half and half would have been good. Back up for a second in your mind and remember the nutmeg... Almost anything that goes with nutmeg takes milk or cream. When you think "puree," all sorts of possibilities open up -- a little chicken stock for instance; but when you think "mashed," dairy leaps to the foreground.

You're still cooking as though cooking were a million disparate elements. You know a lot more than you think you do about what goes together. Relax and let the ideas flow. Also, the thing you did about talking with a friend

Whether whole would have looked better is maybe-maybe not. It probably would have been best served whole on a separate plate with the duck served on top or against the parsnip.

Cutting the asparagus up like that was an invitation for chopsticks. Which is a weird way of saying we see enough cut up asparagus in Asian restaurants so it doesn't bother us. Cut up was fine. The problem was something else. As it happens, you already plate very well. Too well to trisect the plate with meat/starch/veg -- which is what you made uncomfortable.

And speaking of plating ...
Yes. I would have served the duck on top of something. Probably a handful of sauteed (in the duck fat), shredded cabbage with a little bit of carrot cut paysanne (thin triangles), a little onion and possibly a few poppy seeds. Not much -- just enough to get the duck slightly off the plate and to soak up just a bit of the duck juice and sauce so the diner could get every drop. The slices probably would have looked better fanned, rather than shingled -- with the center elevated.

The soup spoons are cute. $2?! Oh those jokers at Crate and Barrel. They're like $0.49 in the Asian markets here.

Red wine reduction is a harsh mistress. Sounds so easy when other people talk about it. If you're seriously into it, you might want to try very slowly reducing a bottle of something on the juicy side -- say an inexpensive Zin -- to a near syrup and using that as a base.

Agree on the demi. Nice to have about. Or aboot if you're Canadian.

On the whole looked great. The wine sauce was a mistake everyone has t make a few times before the idea penetrates. Take any suggestions with a grain of salt and bask in the respect you so richly deserve.

What's for dinner tonight? We're having Mac and cheese.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
pork belly if I can get a recipe ;) haha. actually I'm going to be by myself tonight, fiance is going out with who I call the "red hat society"...might be a good time for me to "experiment"
post #9 of 15

dish delish.

In case anyone was wondering.. this dinner was absolutely amazing. The duck was cooked perfectly and the flavor of the parsnips was well-balanced with a creamy texture. I think this was one of THE closest to "restaurant quality" as it's gotten.

How my fiance can prep, cook, and photograph @ the same time is beyond me... I was kicked out of the kitchen for this one.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ouch....only "close?"

Disclaimer: NRatched considers "Nicholas" to be the "only" actual restaurant worth calling a I guess that's a compliment....haha.
post #11 of 15
Looks terrific! Duck is my favorite thing. I only buy whole birds, way too much good stuff not to IMHO, so I have ready made stock fixings everytime I cook duck. I make a pan sauce using duck stock and vermouth, which we like, but we usually drink champagne with duck. Most of the time I'll oven roast whole spears of asparagus really tasty and really easy. Most of the time I kick my wife out of the kitchen too--but that 's another story. Enjoy
post #12 of 15
That's a very diplomatic translation.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #13 of 15
Are we not, each in his or her own small way, diplomats?

post #14 of 15
Kinda glad you clarified that RPMc. After your recent experience with the Eggs Benny and skillet breakfast, I'm not sure it would be good to make "restaurant quality" food :D

You have mentioned Nicholas quite a few times. I get the impression it is a good place to eat.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure how familiar you are with NYC Restaurants, but I'd put it up against Gramercy Tavern any day. And I love Gramercy.

Nicholas is named after the owner and chef, who was also the Sommelier at Jean-Georges (1 of the three Michelin 3 stars in NYC) at a very young age. In addition, the restaurant is one of the 3...ever in history, restaurants in NJ to received 4 star NY times review.

But other than that....the food, Nicholas himself, just very good and he is a very cool guy. Out of 14 dishes we had for a "tasting" menu 2 weeks...none were less than stellar.

I guess everyone has to have their favorite restaurant....ours is Nicholas. Sucks to set the bar high :(
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