Apart from the groin wax I once had to endure for a Speedo swimwear shoot, recipe-writing remains right up there with my painful-of-painful experiences. However, due to popular demand and an impassioned commitment to countless loyal readers, I am compelled to attempt offering a recipe for a rice dish which came out of my pot at a recent cooking contest at the Palms Market in Woodstock, sponsored by SPEKKO rice.
The dish is Duck Rice My Way. As we were cooking on plates without an oven, I had to re-interpret the Duck Rice that is grazed on by those visiting Portugal, especially its Northern regions.
Begin with a Duck Confit
Take four duck thighs and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Sanitary pads work the best, but I understand if there is an apprehension to use these.
OK, chuck a layer of rock salt into a flat container. Arrange the ducks on the salt. Moer some more salt over the thighs and place in a fridge. Preferably overnight, but I only had four hours due to time constraints.
Remove the cool, salty thighs, wipe off the fat and place in an oven-tray. Because our SA ducks are not as decadently fatty as their cold-climate European buddies, I pour two extra cups of duck fat into the oven-tray. All goes into the oven – 80º-90ºC – for an hour. When you can pull the meat away from the bone, you are good to go.
The duck and fat is lava hot when removed from the oven and can cause serious damage, so allow the stuff to cool in the tray. Place the voluptuous mixture of thighs and fat in a container. Now you can store it for months in the fridge, the meat only taking on more flavour. Not me, however – these four fatty thighs went to the market.
The Duck Rice Dish with SPEKKO Rice
At the cooking station I had a cooking-plate-kind-of-thing. And a tagine, that cone-topped pot the Arabs use when not racing camels or dodging Israeli artillery.
Right. Ingredient time. There were three judges, but I prepared for 6-8 appetites.
- Olive oil, a few slugs
- ½ a red onion
- 4 cloves chopped garlic
- 125 grams streaky bacon, chopped into bits
- 8 handfuls of SPEKKO white rice
- 1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- 125 good chorizo sausage, chopped
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 strands of Iranian saffron
- Those 4 duck thighs plus their fat
- Juice of one large lemon
- Salt and pepper
- A handful of chopped Italian parsley.
Heat the tagine (after removing the lid, of course) and fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent. Remove. Fry the bacon until golden. Remove and keep with the onion and garlic.
Now here’s the important bit: take as much fat as possible from the container containing the duck thighs and spoon it into the hot tagine. Fry your rice in the fat for 3 to 4 minutes. The fat gets hellishly hot so keep stirring, as burning your rice is going to make you look like a real idiot in-front of the hordes of spectators cheering on us contestants in our SPEKKO aprons.
This pre-frying is important as it allows the brutally robust duck essence to penetrate the rice. Not that SPEKKO rice is not tasty – the fat just expands the flavour profile.
After the allotted 3, 4 minutes, pour the white wine into the rice and turn down the heat to simmering temperature. The aroma is bloody awesome, I warn you. If you, like me, are aroused by the expansive aromas from good cooking, best make sure the apron goes to your knees.
Into this simmering wine-rice goes: water, the fried bacon, onion and garlic. Chorizo. Paprika. Saffron. Give everything a good stir. And place your four now less fatty duck thighs on the rice.
That is it. Put the cone-shaped tagine lid back on. And stand around for 45 to an hour charming the judges, sipping wine and doing some twitter.
After 45 minutes I opened up the tagine and removed the bones from the meat, as well as the skins as these look a bit morgue-like for the weak of heart.
Season with salt and pepper, splash in the lemon juice. Give everything a stir and place the lid back on for five minutes.
Take the thing from the cooking device, open the tagine and drop the chopped parsley over the rice. And serve. Great thing is, the fat allows the rice to remain firm to the bite which is the secret to a good duck rice.
A cool wine with this is a light, tasty red. Grenache, Pinot Noir or a restrained Pinotage.
(This post was not sponsored by SPEKKO. But they gave me an apron.)
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