Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Birth of Freedom and some awesome Duck

Photos (Lexi Van de Walle): Inaugural Hawaiian flowers on dining table, Duck ala Obama served on gold plated Limoges china with cherry chutney, wild rice and broccoli

Congratulations, MR. PRESIDENT!!!

In honor of America's historic day, I decided to throw a little party last night, and cook up the duck with sour cherry chutney that Congress served at Obama's Inaugural luncheon -- the caterer used the recipes from Abraham Lincoln's famous Inaugural Supper. I must say it was absolutely delicious -- must cook again and again. Henry, my friend Debra Pickrel, Cory and Camille all agree. Perfectly crispy skin, tender medium-rare meat coupled with one of the most exciting chutney recipes I've ever tasted (basically a stew of fruits and veggies bursting with flavor: onions, garlic, red pepper, cumin, tomato, dried red pepper flakes, red wine, apple vinegar and cherries). Huge thanks to the Congressional Inaugural Committee for posting the recipes and providing other historical tidbits on their inaugural website. 

I couldn't find the canned bing cherries so I substituted frozen Cascadian Farms cherries, but other than that I followed the recipe pretty much exactly (although a little heavy handed with the red pepper flakes). I bought local Hudson Valley Foie Gras brand Moulard duck breasts (the Washington DC dish was made with Indiana Maple Leaf Farms duck breasts) and served the entree with wild rice cooked in homemade chicken stock and steamed broccoli with truffle butter. Not much else was local except the Ronnybrook Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert! 

A highly recommended and VERY PRESIDENTIAL meal served with a fine Oregonian wine (if I couldn't get the cherries from Oregon at least I got the wine), Columbia Valley ABEJA Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. Impeccable choice for the duck. 

Not gamey at all, Moulard is a hybrid cross of Pekin duck and Muscovy duck. Like many producers, Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Sullivan Country ages their ducks for seven days to augment the already rich flavor. 

Hudson Valley Foie Gras
80 Brooks Road
Ferndale, NY 12734
Phone: 845-292-2500

Check out these resources: 
- Learn more about Obama's Abraham Lincoln themed event "A New Birth of Freedom", replicas of Mrs. Lincoln's White House china, Abe's and Barack's recipes including a seafood stew and apple dessert, inaugural gifts for Messrs. Obama and Biden and the history of the lunch at US Senate Inaugural Website

-Read a Los Angeles Times article written by Andrew F. Smith (my amazing professor of culinary history and food writing from The New School). A good read: "The First Suppers: A Tradition of Inaugural Meals"

Courtesy of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, 2009

Duck Breast with Cherry Chutney
Yield: 10 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped onion (1 small)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Scant ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper (½ medium)
plum tomato, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dry red wine
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 can (3 cups) Bing cherries, quartered (Oregon brand)
½ cup Golden Raisins
10 (6 oz.) boneless duck breasts with skin
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or chives

Method for chutney and glaze

Heat oil in a 2 to 3 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, garlic, and shallot, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste, black pepper, cumin, hot pepper flakes, and1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine, vinegar (to taste), and sugar and simmer approx 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, 1 1/2 cups cherries, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly and reserve all but ¼ cup of the mix to the side. Place1/4 cup mix in a blender and puree until very smooth, about 1 minute (use caution when blending hot liquids). Reserve for glazing duck. To finish the chutney, add the remaining 1 ½ cups of cherries, tarragon, chives and all the golden raisins. Can be prepared one day ahead. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern with a small sharp knife and season duck all over with salt and pepper.

Heat water in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over low heat until hot, then add duck, skin side down. Cook duck, uncovered, over low heat, without turning, until most of fat is rendered(melted) and skin is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Transfer duck to a plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Brush duck all over with cherry glaze and return to skillet, skin side up.

Roast duck in oven until thermometer registers 135°F, about 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Holding a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle, cut duck into slices. Serve with cherry chutney and molasses whipped sweet potato.
 (For a lighter meal, try wild rice and broccoli on the side.)

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