Sunday, March 4, 2012

'Duck, Duck. Goose'...The Process of Creating a Dish

To me, the process of creating a dish often begins somewhere in my mind while sleeping, often while driving, but never while sleeping and driving.  I think about food all the time.  My inspiration comes from somewhere and from nowhere but everywhere.  So, I wrote yesterday about Black Raspberries and then Foie Gras.  Went to bed after midnight and, thus, this morning I stirred at 5:24 a.m. and duck was on my mind (cue the Ray Charles back ground music and we can sing together, 'I got duck skin on my mind...'). 

In my semi-lucid state the duck skin thought became a duck breast (magret when used in conjunction with the foie gras of the same bird, a fattened Moulard duck), which then I imagined as two breasts positioned opposite to each other and dusted with transglutaminase to 'bond' them together and then rolled in plastic wrap to make a cylinder.  Formed as a roulade and then seard and wrapped in blanched cabbage leaves, I put that thought aside and began to use other parts of the duck.  Like on paper, all my ideas work in my head...  I then conjured up a small salad to pair with the roulade - duck confit, shredded with raw Granny Smith Apple and fresh parsley will pair well with the red meat of the duck breast.  Then the name came to me like a windstorm pounding the cliffs above the sea. 

I like a whimsical approach to naming a dish.  This potential dish brought to me a memory of a recreational playground game when I was a kid.  'Duck, Duck, Goose'.  So, the application of duck done twice with goose.  That wa easy.  Not a sexy name for a plate of food, but fun.  Then more illumination.  Ah, yes...foie gras.  But, of course!  Foie Gras d'Oie is fattened goose liver (literally 'fat liver'), a more prounounced flavor profile than the duck version so perfectly suitable to scoring and butter searing for my dish.  The useful combinations of duck meat then lead me to duck prosciutto, cured breasts left to hang in a cold larder until they begin to sweat.  Sliced thin it is a an ideal substitute for it's porcine cousin.  Here I thought to wrap a roasted or grill fig with the duck prosciutto or integrate it into an apple, pepper and shallot chutney (necessary for the acid componenent in a well-balance dish).  Still half-awake I took the skin from the breast, weighted the skin and seared it in a hot pan and then scraped the remaining sub-cutaneous fat off the underside of the skin and then finished the skin between two silpats in a low oven, in effect, Confit of duck skin...  The best thing about cooking in your sleep is there is no clean-up. 

The early morning sketch work of 'Duck, Duck, Goose'.  My apologies for the sketch laying side-ways.  It, like me, is still asleep...

Rising from my bed chamber I headed to the office to find paper and pen.  I wrote down the ideas that the sleeping Chef had dreamed of and then drew sketches (above) of the various components to the 'dish'.  I added the liquid nitrogen frozen blackberry drupes, the fig jam and the caramelized Passion Fruit 'Brulee".  Sitting back I planned to reproduce the theory and then plate the final version in a future blog this week.  Perhaps this may be one of the dishes that I will create for the Pairsine 'Spirits & Food' on the 17th. 

I thought to include this as an exercise in the creation of a dish.  I make sure to include the tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salt, Umami and capsaicin first.  Then comes the thought of flavor profiling from aromas, interest and excitement in color, height, cooking methods, techniques, cooking apparatus and the seasonalty of the products.  Can I get the products locally, organically and sustainably?  Does it make sense?

So, does it make sense?  Peace.

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