Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Roasted & Braised Duck Pretzel Pockets

Lately I find myself short on time in the kitchen and so when I do have a couple of moments I try to utilize them well. Instead of creating and freezing full recipes I've been experimenting more with ingredients, like in my previous post about leeks! And this is what I love about this recipe because though it is a little lengthy, it's hands off for the most part and with an ingredient like duck you're left with many components to use for other recipes, plus it's high on flavour.

It's always a good day when you find a duck in your freezer, like the other day when I discovered the bird but then remembered that it must have been there for a little over a year! Lucky for me it wasn't freezer burnt and the flavour was incredible!

Once the duck was all thawed from hanging out in the fridge for a couple of days I rubbed it down with grapeseed oil and seasoned generously with salt and black pepper, and off it went into a 375 F oven for 2 hours until the skin was crispy and the whole duck was golden. Occasionally I'd check on it and pour off any of the extra fat in the pan, that stuff is liquid gold and perhaps just about the best part!

All those delicious things you could make with duck fat, from roasted potatoes to sauteed eggs, meats and wintery vegetables... the possibilities are endless!  Let me know what you like to do with leftover duck/goose fat in the comments below!

So back to the duck.  Once cooled I removed the skin.  I'd suggest setting that aside as a little something for the chef (you!) there isn't very much of it and it tends to go soggy unless eaten right away!

Nothing goes to waste here so I save those bones! There is a ton of flavour to be had from those bits and pieces of roasted skin, fat and savoury goodness left behind, all are going to a bit pot and allowed to bubble away for a couple of hours yielding the most delicious stock!

And last but not least those pan drippings! Adding a little stock or warm water to loosen up those bits and pieces then thickening makes an incredible gravy. A whole other recipe right there!

So to sum it up, out of one roasted duck you get fat, rich stock, crunchy skin, gravy and shredded meat. That's a lot of deliciousness for future meals right there!

Back to today's recipe... and that shredded meat! We'll also be using the pan drippings, first skimming off any extra fat and adding it to the fat pile and then adding a little warm water to remove all the yummy bits from the pan and straining it over top the duck meat, You want to use a small saucepan and have the liquid just covering the meat. Cover the saucepan with a bit of foil so that no steam escapes and cook on medium low for one hour or until the meat is nice and soft.  After an hour mix a little bit of cold liquid (water) and about a tsp of flour and then add it to the duck to thick the sauce, at this point there should be no liquid, just almost a glaze surrounding the shredded duck.

Cool the filling and add chopped green onion if desired then set aside.

Now for the Pretzel dough

1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 tablespoons margarine

1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Proof for 5 minutes.
Mix in butter or margarine, flour, and salt. Cut dough into gold ball size balls and roll out into small flat circles. Fill with some cooled duck filling and seal up like a half a circle or small pockets.

Set on a tray and cover with a damp cloth or a piece of cling wrap. Allow to proof for 45 minutes to an hour.

This part goes really quick... it involves boiling and baking and you want to boil only what fits on the tray and into your oven one batch at a time.

Heat oven to 475 F.

In a cast iron or other nonaluminum pan, bring water and baking soda almost to a boil. Gently lower pockets into the water for about 90 seconds, do not allow water to come to a full boil.  Remove pocket with a large slotted spoon that supports the pocket well yet allows water to drain off and place on the parchment lined baking tray. You could put up to 5 pockets in the pot at a time. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake at 475 degrees F (245 degrees C) for about 12 minutes.

I froze the leftover duck filling and whipped it out on Chinese New Year 2016 (Year of the Monkey) to create these wontons. They of course went into duck broth that was made from the bones of that roasted duck! So so good! 

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