Holidays are full of obligations. When planning a meal for a holiday gathering, many of us feel obligated to prepare something special for everyone at the table. And when it's time to serve the meal, it often looks like the buffet line at a big hotel. Many years ago, I switched from trying to accommodate everyone to simply serving a few great dishes made from scratch. There's no canned green beans, creamed soup, or store-bought onion rings—just fresh, perfectly cooked ingredients, including duck. For the folks who say they don't like wild game, I don't tell them it's duck until after dinner. This year, ditch the Jell-O mold and try one or more of these dishes to accompany the main course at your holiday feast.
FREE-RANGE GREEN BEANS
MAKES: 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
[STEP 1] Heat oil to 350 degrees in a heavy-duty pot or deep skillet. Dredge sliced onions in seasoned flour. Add to hot oil, a few at a time, until lightly browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
[STEP 2] In a large skillet, lightly brown the duck bacon, remove from pan, and reserve. Add green beans and mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in almonds. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with reserved duck bacon, lemon zest, and reserved fried onions.
- 6 duck breast fillets, skin intact
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon pink curing salt (Prague Powder #1 or Insta Cure #1)
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons each crushed black peppercorns and coffee grounds, fresh or used
[STEP 1] In a bowl, combine kosher salt with pink curing salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and coffee grounds and mix thoroughly. Rub the mixture into all surfaces of the duck breast fillets. Place fillets in a zip-top bag and refrigerate for 12 hours, turning every couple of hours. Remove fillets from bag, rinse well with cold water and pat dry. Arrange fillets on a rack with a pan underneath and place in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours to air dry.
[STEP 2] Place fillets in a smoker at low temperature (under 150 degrees) or in a 200-degree oven with the door cracked open about 1/2 inch (use a ball of foil) for one hour. Cool completely. Slice fillets into thin strips and fry as you would regular bacon.
DUCK FRIED RICE
MAKES: 4 SERVINGS
- 1 cup diced duck breast
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 4 chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup each finely diced carrots and celery
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon peeled and minced ginger
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
- 2 beaten eggs
- Salt and black pepper to taste
[STEP 1] Heat peanut and sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add green onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add duck and cook for 2 minutes more. Add soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Cook for 1 minute.
[STEP 2] Add rice and eggs and stir-fry until hot throughout and eggs are completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper.