Sunday, April 15, 2012

Matzo Ball Confit

Yes, I know what confit means.  No, I'm not going to cook Matzo Balls in their own fat.  However, I will substitute the duck fat from the smoked ducks we made last week for the required oil in the Matzo Balls, and that is what makes this recipe right for Griller Instinct.

Let's start with the chicken soup that the Matzo Balls are served in.  Well....  I accidentally deleted the video of me making the chicken soup.  So, I recommend make some really rich chicken soup (you can always used my Smoked Chicken Soup recipe if you need a base).  I used two 4-pound chickens (in parts), carrots, onions, garlic (1 head), thyme, celery, two bouillon cubes, fresh dill, a jalapeno and whatever vegetables I had kicking around.

Cut all the vegetables in quarters.  Don't waste time peeling them them.  Put it all in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, them turn it down and let it simmer for 1 hour.  Strain everything out and keep the broth (chicken soup).  Hold on to the chicken and make into something else, like a chicken salad, since there's no sense in wasting perfectly good food.  Some recipes call for cooling the soup and removing the fat that floats to the top.  I say "that's ridiculous."

Is this enough broth?  Perhaps not.  To make a Griller Instinct broth there needs to be some grilled components, right?  I boiled the leftover Thanksgiving (smoked) turkey carcass, and froze the broth (back in November obviously).  So I'm adding that to my chicken soup for a little extra liquid and a slight smokey flavor. I can't imagine you not having some smoked turkey broth in your freezer, but if you don't (and you should), have some good quality boxed broth ready to go.

Don't forget the duck was smoked, as well, so the Matzo Balls are going to have a back note of smoke to match the broth.  There you have it, Griller Instincts take on Matzo Ball soup.  When I told Stew how great they balls came out, he said "no sh*%, you made them with duck fat!"

Here is my Matzo Ball recipe:

12 eggs (beaten)
5 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
4 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup of smoked duck fat (you can substitute 1 cup of clarified butter)
3-3.5 cups of matzo meal
2 cups seltzer

Combine all this (with a big whisk).
Put in in the fridge for two hours.
Fill a big pot with 2-3 inches of your broth
make 2 inch matzo balls (get some oil on your hands to keep the meal from sticking to you)
Boil broth, add balls, (leave a lot of room as they will double in size), reduce heat to a simmer, cook for 30 minutes, remove and let dry on a dish towel. This will likely take two to three batches, and you will keep having to add broth.

When you are ready to eat, heat up the soup, add the balls to the liquid to let them heat back up, then serve.

Here is the part of the video I didn't delete:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sweet and Smoky Spring Cleaning Duck

Last weekend, Stew had some good-looking ducks at his shop. So I picked up two knowing that one four-to-five pound duck feeds about two people.  With the seasons changing, we thought this was a great time for Spring Cleaning Duck, and after it was carved, we put the meat on top of a great salad and it really came out great.  The flavor (not the texture) is similar to Peking duck, but we didn't go through all the hassle of drying out the bird and the smoke added a great flavor, as well.

First ,I brined the ducks overnight, and making the brine is quick and easy.

1.5 Gallons of water
1 Cup kosher salt
1 Cup orange juice
5 Garlic cloves
Tablespoon of black peppercorns

Mix all this together, add your duck, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Next, I smoked the duck for 4.5-5 hours at 250 degrees.  I used hickory and apple wood on top of the coals in the smoker.

To smoke the duck:
1. Remove duck from brine and prick the skin several times (just the skin) so the fat can run out.
2. Cut off any fat that is hanging off the bird.  Dry off the bird.
3. Put the duck on a smoking spit.
4. Put the duck in the smoker with a pan underneath to catch the dripping fat.
5. Figure out a way to keep the inside of the smoker moist.  I placed two cans of beer in the smoker.
6. After 30 minutes, begin basting the  bird every 25-30 minutes, with the spring cleaning glaze.
7. After 5 hours it's done.  Take the duck off and carve.

While the duck is smoking, you'll want to prepare your Spring Cleaning Glaze.  Why odd name, you may ask?  Well, this sauce gives you the chance to empty out all the mostly used jellies and turn them into a jam-azing sauce for your duck.  You'lld need:

1. 1/2 Cup honey
2. 2 Cups of Jelly, combined (whatever jellies and spreads you have kicking around in your fridge)
3. The juice of one lemon
4. 2 Tablespoons of ground ginger root
5. 1 Tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce

Put all this is a pan and heat to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Then let the sauce cool until it becomes thick and sticky.  That way is easily adheres to the bird.

Check out the completed bird in the video.  It tasted as good as it looks.