How to Cook a Duck (Chapter II): Duck Pilaf
In the first chapter of ‘How to Cook a Duck’ I talked about convenience and how it can sometimes save us, while costing us more than we are prepared to admit. Now for the second chapter I would like to focus on sustainable home cooking, avoiding food waste and using leftovers.
It is no secret that the amount of food waste in the UK is at an all time high. We buy more than we need, we don’t always plan our meals – or we don’t always stick to the plan, we impulsively buy things that we don’t necessarily need – and from here to throwing away food is just a small step. I am the first to admit that, no matter how hard I try or how much I plan in advance, I invariably end up throwing away food. Fresh herbs are the first on my food waste list, followed by carrots and salad leaves. So I came up with a three-step plan:
- buy potted herbs instead of cut ones and do my best to keep them alive for as long as I can.
- bulk peel & chop the carrots and store them in a sealed bag in the freezer.
- eat a small bowl of salad leaves every day, and only buy a new bag of salad leaves when there’s no other left in the fridge.
Hopefully you’ll get inspired by my plan and will come up with your own easy, small-step ideas to reduce food waste. Furthermore, the following recipe is a good example of how you can use leftovers in order to make the most of your time and your ingredients. The duck pilaf recipe below is using leftover duck meat and carrots from a classic duck soup.
The thing with the pilaf is that although it’s a rice based dish, it has nothing to do with its more famous counterpart: the risotto. First of all, you need a different type of rice: a round grain rice, more like the rice used for puddings or for the paella. For this duck pilaf recipe I used paella rice as it has a smaller grain, it takes shorter to cook but it still absorbs a lot of flavour. Second: you need to cook the pilaf all the way through. You’re looking for a soft bite (not at all al-dente as it is the case for risotto) and a melt-in-the-mouth, rich, creamy texture. Finally, I like to keep things simple here. Using the duck soup as a base and black peppercorns and bay leaves as seasoning. Apart of the leftover carrots and meat from the soup, I only add a finely chopped shallot at the beginning of cooking and fresh parsley at the end. This dish is all about clean, simple flavours, richness and comfort. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 carrots boiled, diced
- 100 g duck meat boiled, shredded
- 100 g paella rice
- 300 ml duck soup (stock)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- Heat the sunflower oil in a pan.
- Add the chopped shallot and cook on low heat until translucent.
- Add the chopped carrots and shredded duck meat and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, rtirring occasionally.
- Add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the duck soup and seasonings: salt, bay leaves and black peppercorns.
- Cook on low heat until all liquid is absorbed.
- Add warm water if the rice has absorbed all the duck soup and it is not cooked.
- Continue cooking until the rice is completely cooked and soft to the bite.
- Served hot, garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley.
If pilaf is not your thing (yet), take a look at this fabulous risotto with porcini mushrooms – it’s a little bit more elaborate and takes slightly longer to cook, but definitely worth the effort.
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