fried duck breast; sweet potato frites; cabbage; cheeses


I’m getting the hang of this cooking thing, even with the added complication of guests.

I had cooked everything that appears on this plate many times before, although with a little variation each time, but it still seems to me like an accomplishment that I hadn’t done anything ahead of time, that I started prep 20 minutes before our guest arrived, that I was totally relaxed throughout both the cooking and serving process, and that I had been able to engage in a 3-way conversation throughout. I think I have to credit An, our guest this time, with much of the smoothness of the process.

We started casually, with some breadsticks, roasted chick peas, and Fiori di Puglia Taralli al Peperoncino, all from Buon Italia.

We sat down to the first course less than an hour after our guest had arrived.

  • two 15-ounce duck breasts from Hudson River Duck Farm, the fatty sides scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, then left standing, first inside the refrigerator and later for 45 minutes on the counter, pan-fried, fatty side down first inside a large round enameled cast iron pan over medium heat, turning once, draining the fat after the first few minutes and straining it to be used in cooking at another time, for a total of probably more than 10 minutes (I lost track when the 2 breasts didn’t seem to be cooking as fast as one does by itself, so I ended up using my new instant-read meat thermometer, removing the duck when the internal temperature read just over 155º, carryover cooking continuing to raise the temperature to 160° as it rested, bringing it to just under rare to medium rare when it was served), each of the breasts cut crosswise into 2 portions, one of the halves set aside, enclosed in plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator for another day, the 2 other portions left sitting on warm plates for several minutes before being finished with a drizzle of some juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and a little Portuguese house olive oil, also from Whole Foods Market, garnished with micro red mustard from Two Guys from Woodbridge

  • twenty ounces of Japanese sweet potatoes from Race Farm, unpeeled, but scrubbed pretty thoroughly, cut as french fries, tossed inside a bowl with a little olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, 5 medium unpeeled Keith’s Farm rocambole garlic cloves and a couple pinches of crushed dark dried habanada pepper, roasted just above 400º in a large, well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan for about 35 minutes, or until crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and chewy on the edges, garnished with chopped parsley from Philipps Farms

  • two beautiful small heads of purple-tinged Savoy cabbage from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, quartered, cored, sliced into one-half-inch ribbons, sautéed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil inside a large heavy, enameled cast iron pot until wilted but still a little crunchy, stirring occasionally, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 8 or so slightly smashed juniper berries mixed in, a few drops of balsamic vinegar added and stirred over the heat for only a moment, the cabbage arranged on the plates and finished with a drizzle of olive oil

  • the wine with the duck was a Spanish (Rioja/Rioja Alavesa) red, C.V.N.E. Rioja Crianza Vina Real 2013, from Garnet Wines

There was a cheese course.


  • the music throughout the meal was this playlist Barry had assembled on Spotify