Calissons

1 08 2010

Our latest candy obsession has been calissons.

They are similar to marzipan, but have ground candied fruit, particularly melon and orange, in addition to almonds. The paste rests on wafer paper and is covered by royal icing.

Calissons have quite the history and lore regarding their name and origins. They are a specialty of Aix en Provence where they have been made in a semi-industrialized process since the 1800’s. This region of Provence was well known for it’s almonds until the early 1900’s and melons are still celebrated with an annual festival in the nearby Cavaillon. Prior to the Aix factories, they date to the middle ages, possibly coming from Italian monasteries, although they are often attributed as being first made for King Rene’s (the last king of Provence) second wedding in 1454. They retained a religious significance for some time and were said to protect from the plague.

It seems like a simple candy, but finding a recipe for these things has proved challenging. In seemingly reputable descriptions (like here, here, and here), they indicate ground almonds, ground candied fruit, and sugar or syrup from the candied fruit, but fail to provide actual directions. The ground paste is molded on top of wafer paper and then topped with royal icing as you can see in this video. The result is an almond shaped confection.

There is another version that contains egg yolk and heavy cream that seems like it just can’t be right, and others that seem close, but simplified, with ground almonds and jam. MFK Fisher even has a contribution in her book Map of Another Town. She gives the recipe (you can search for it in the Amazon book) from a factory that she never seems to get around to visiting — a pint of blanched almonds, a pound of sugar, and a few tablespoons of fruit syrup — no mention of candied fruit itself and no candied melon.

We decided that we needed to re-engineer the recipe. We based it on Greweling’s marzipan recipe, which is 50% almonds, but decreased the almonds and added candied fruit and syrup. We changed the recipe to about 35% almonds, 30% candied Cavaillon melon, 5% candied Seville orange rind, and 30% melon syrup + a little honey.

Usually, the candied Cavaillon melon is the most difficult ingredient to source. You can find it online, but it is prohibitively expensive for candy making. You can make it yourself if you can find a really good cantaloupe-ish melon. Cavaillon melons are a type a cantaloupe with a strong, honeyed flavor that is just wonderful. We get ours at the Chino Farm, but they seem like they are becoming more common at farmer’s markets and the like. It can be candied like any other fruit by letting it sit in progressively stronger sugar solutions until it is translucent and the solution is about 75% sugar. It can be dried to look more like candied fruit or drained briefly and used for cooking, as in this recipe.

The almonds we get at Terra Bella Ranch, which have the benefit of being very fresh with a clear almond flavor. Unlike European almonds, though, these do not have any additional flavor from the occasional bitter almond. So, we add a little pure almond extract to compensate.

Here’s our current calisson recipe:

350g almonds
300g drained candied Cavillon melon
50g drained candied Seville orange peel
350g syrup from melons
60g lavender honey (not the infused kind — the kind from bees feeding on lavender)
1/4 t. pure almond extract

The syrup is 75% sugar, but gets cooked to ~88% sugar, so it is >30% to compensate. The honey is in place of glucose in the recipe and is characteristic of Provence, which is renowned for their lavender honey. Historically, fruits were often candied in honey, so this is probably consistent with some version in the past.

To make the paste, we use the same method as Greweling’s marzipan. We blanched the almonds in water for 5 min, removed the skins, lightly ground them with the fruit in a food processor. This gives a roughly chopped mixture:

We boiled the syrup to 244F, poured over the fruit/almonds, lightly stirred and let cool on a marble slab.

This recipe is a little too wet, I think and the above image is probably too moist. We actually microwaved this for 1-2 min to reduce some of the water, let cool, and then proceeded with grinding. We ground the mixture to a paste in 2 batches with the almond extract in the food processor for about 8 minutes per batch. Greweling specifies a commercial processor, but our home 11-cup version works just fine. You just wouldn’t want to make too much, as the motor gets pretty hot. This resulted in a fine, smooth paste that was sticky when warm, but smooth when cool.

After this cooled, we rolled it out onto wafer paper (rice paper, but made of potato starch, available here) using .375 inch aluminum bars as guides.

If you try to cut this immediately, it is pretty sticky. But, if you leave it overnight, it hardens on the outside and becomes much easier to cut. We cut them with a slightly oiled knife, using the aluminum bar as a guide.

Although these are usually molded into tapered almond-shaped diamonds, candies like this have historically been cut into diamonds for centuries. Since we don’t have a mold, we have opted for the cut diamonds. After cutting, they are dipped into royal icing and set out overnight to harden.

These are a pretty subtle, but quite addictive candy. They are not terribly sweet and are floral from the melon and orange. I felt the honey and the almond extract really helped to bring all the flavors together. It is much like marzipan, but with a lot more character — in a light, fruity, flowery sort of way.

We’ll have to run these by the French folks in our lives to verify that they are close to the real deal (we haven’t tried the real deal yet!), but we’re quite happy with their flavor. I think a badge will be in our not too distant future!





Crispy Skin Duck III: steam/roasting with a pressure cooker

24 04 2010

Today brings us a new tech for crispy duck skin. We’re going to pressure cook the duck partially and finish with roasting. This is a variant of the steam/roast method that gets a lot of airplay with the advantage that pressure cooking is faster, more convenient, and might be more effective at melting fat.

The idea behind steam roasting is that the wet steam effectively melts the fat better than dry heat in the oven. Roasting a fat-reduced bird should then produce a crisp skin. Deep frying is also an option here, but we went with roasting.

We began with the usual: separate the skin from the meat with a bicycle pump. We’re getting a lot better at this and it only takes a couple minutes now. Then, we dried the bird on a vertical roaster, uncovered, and with good air flow in the fridge for about 24 hours. Here it is afterward. The skin is often described as “like parchment” and you can see the light, dry texture.

The skin under the wings doesn’t dry well, so here you can see the contrast between dried and non-dried skin. The skin is originally thick, white, and moist. The dry skin is darker, thinner, and smooth.

We seasoned the inside of the duck before steaming with a half teaspoon of salt. Salting is pretty essential here and you need to do it before cooking or it won’t permeate the meat as well. We also slashed the skin to let the fat drain more effectively.

We pressure cooked the duck for 15 min at 15 PSI (2nd ring) in our pressure cooker. We reasoned that the fat seems to melt well at 250, which is about the temperature inside the pressure cooker at 15 PSI, and that the moist steam would help it render. We placed him on top of the steaming plate with a half cup of water. When he came out, he was glistening with fat droplets. We got about 3/4 c. of fat that had rendered into the water.

After we steamed him, we poured the light glaze (2T honey in 1c. water) over him and then let him dry in the fridge for 6 hours or so.

Roasting was at 350 for about 30 min. The skin was a bit uneven here, but much was a nice color.

Flavor was excellent — this duck really doesn’t need much but a little salt. The overall fat content was still pretty rich and only just lighter than drying and roasting alone. The meat was juicy, firm, and tender — just what we want. So, so far, not a major advance with the pressure cooker, but a very nice duck. We served him with a carrot & lemon vinaigrette salad and sauteed spinach with almonds.





Beans 2: Cassoulet

17 03 2010

After a tasty, but nowhere near traditional cassoulet attempt, we decided to get a bit more serious.

Cassoulet is a very old dish dating at least to the middle ages. It is in some ways is a forbearer of both “franks and beans” and those casseroles that were popular in the 1950’s-70’s in the US. You know, the ones made with leftover rice or noodles, tuna, and canned cream of mushroom soup. The resemblance in taste is even worse than pate to meatloaf.

It is a rustic, country dish consisting of beans, various meats, and some vegetables layered together in a heavy, open pot and baked. This is the kind of dish that you eat in winter when there isn’t much fresh meat around and where it can simmer all day on the stove. It is a particularly good dish for us to make right now because it’s a classic bean dish, we just made duck confit (post to come!), we still have some of our bacon, and there are a couple andouille-style sausages (not traditional, but tasty) left.

It usually has large white beans: tarbais are a really pricey version, but navy and cannellini work too. Before the white beans came from America, fava beans were used. We used cannellini from a local Italian market Mona Lisa. They had some in bins at $2.29/lb, but they weren’t covered and it didn’t look like they got much turnover. So, we got a pre-packaged bag of them at $3/lb. Here they are when we first put them in water to soak overnight.

We did some web searching, but mainly looked at two cookbooks: I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot (the Joy of Cooking for French peeps, translated into English) and The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon. Both are similar, but Robuchon has more detailed instructions and seems to cut fewer corners: he cooks the assembled cassoulet for 4 hours at 250 instead of Mathiot’s 2 hours at 350. We mostly went with Robuchon, but we didn’t do a breadcrumb crust at the end and used the meats that we have.

The beans are cooked with herbs (parsley, thyme, and bay) and aromatics (onion, carrot, garlic) for about an hour. We put the bacon in the water in the last 15 minutes to cook it a bit and extract some of the salt. Here are the beans after they have come out.

Different regions of France (mostly the South of France) each include different types of meats. A number are added: tough cuts like lamb, mutton, or pork shoulder; and preserved meats like sausages, duck or goose confit, and pork belly or bacon. We added pork shoulder, bacon, duck confit, and our andouille sausage. We browned the shoulder and sausage. Here’s the shoulder.

Onions are cooked in the pan that was used to brown the meats, transferring all that yummy browned protein flavor to the onions.

Often, tomatoes or tomato paste is added, helping to bring out the protein flavor with their glutamates. We used paste since tomatoes are not in season here. The onion-tomato mixture is mixed up with the beans and part is spread into a dish. We’re using a dutch oven — the traditional cassole dish is circular with sloping sides.

The meats are layered on top of the beans.

And more meats are layered…

Then, the rest of the beans are put on top and bean liquid is added to cover. The whole pot is placed in the oven at 250 for 4 hours in this case where the meats continue cooking until very tender and the flavors meld. When it comes out, the top is browned, carmalized, and lightly crusty. It may be that a perfect crust is one of those things that takes a bit of work, but this certainly looked tasty.

We garnished with parsley and ate it as a stew with Bread & Cie multigrain.

The flavor whomped the previous version out of the water. There is something about the duck confit that gives it a rich complexity that is hard to describe. It may require a few more meals to describe it, but that’s ok — we’ll have enough for the rest of the week! The texture of all the meats was soft and tender, with the confit in particular shredding to pieces. I think the 250 cooking is probably essential to this because if it boils, much of the meat will be become tough.

This dish overall is only a couple hours of actual work for a pot of food that is about 4-5 meals for 2. But it is a lot of cooking time, especially if you add in the duck confit. It is perfect when you are going to be home for the day cleaning, working, or reading. Prep for dinner is very quick. Even if you make a salad to go with it, you’re looking at 15 min max. It also seems really flexible — you can add a lot of different sorts of meats, most which we usually have in the freezer.

Price wise, this is an expensive dish if you buy confit, sausages, and good bacon, but quite reasonable if you make them yourself. We used 3/4 of a duck at $12/duck ($9), $3 in beans, $1 for sausage, $1.50 for bacon, $2 on onions & carrot, $0.50 on tomato paste, and $1 on herbs. So, $18 for a generous 8 servings. There was a one-time charge of $12 for duck fat to make the confit, but that will get used up and used again. Even if we add $6 to the total cost, we are looking at a reasonably priced dish of $3/serving.

All in all, a great recipe that we’ll make again. We’ll need a few more dishes before we hit the badge, though.





Beans — Part I

4 03 2010

We’ve been looking into new ways to incorporate beans into our meals. While we’ve made them in the past, they just haven’t gotten mixed into the regular meal rotation. This time, we’d like to spend some time getting to know them again and work out a few recipes that we can hold onto.

One of the most important things to remember in buying beans is to get them fresh, as in less than 1-2 years old, but fresher if you can find them. The older they get, the harder they are to cook, and the more likely you are to end up with hard, crunchy beans instead of smooth, creamy goodness. One way to find fresh beans is to search out the markets that sell a lot of them.

We have so far mainly purchased beans from our favorite Mexican market Northgate Gonzales. Northgate is a chain that began as a small grocery in Los Angeles in 1980 and has expanded to 30 large groceries throughout Southern California. They carry a number of beans in bins that are often on sale including pinto ($0.49-$0.89/lb), black ($0.99/lb), peruano ($0.79-$1.29/lb), and flor de mayo ($1.49/lb). The flor de mayo seem like a firmer version of the pinto and the peruano are yellow beans that make really yummy refried beans.

Indian markets also sell a variety of beans with high turnover, if you group lentils in with the mix. Ker Distributors is a large market off Black Mountain Rd. with a good selection. Closer to us is the smaller India Sweets and Spices.

They carry at least 10 different kinds of lentils, white and desi chickpeas, kidney, red, black beans, and more. Most beans and lentils are $3.79 for a 2 lb. bag and $6.99 for a 4 lb. bag. We picked up a bag of white garbanzos/chickpeas and a bag of kidney beans.

The last time we made beans, we got bogged down in the time needed to cook them. It wasn’t that we couldn’t plan for it, but needing to soak something overnight and then cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours before using it in a recipe, which might take an additional 20 minutes, was a bit rough on a weeknight. We found 2 possible solutions. One is a way to cook beans without soaking in the oven that only takes 90 minutes. The other includes soaking, but follows it with cooking in a pressure cooker for 10-12 minutes for most varieties. Along with heating and cooling down, that should take 30 minutes, which is more reasonable.

We have tried the 90 minute beans with pintos and were really pleased, although they took an extra 15 min. For today’s adventure, we’re going to test out something that is kind of close, but not really, to a cassoulet. We’re doing a real simple version adding in onions, garlic, chicken stock, diced and cooked bacon,

and our house “andoullie-style” sausage (just pork shoulder ground with spices, it isn’t in casings or smoked).

One of the posters on eGullet claimed that they make cassoulet using the 90 minute method, so we figured it *might* work. Usually, the convention is that you don’t want to add anything when cooking beans, especially salt, or they won’t absorb the water. But the 90-minute recipe threw out that rule, so why not go whole hog? We mixed everything up in a dutch oven and brought it to a boil on the stove.

We then put a tight-fitting cover on the pot, placed it in the oven at 250F, crossed our fingers and waited for 75 minutes.

When we opened the pot after 75 min, the beans were nowhere close to done. Still chalky!

Luckily, we recently purchased a pressure cooker. Here she is. The valve moves up as the pressure goes up and the double red line indicates that she is at 15 PSI.

We dumped the beans in it and after 3 tries of cooking them 5-10 minutes in each attempt, we were finally rewarded with cooked beans. Lessons learned — “quick cassoulet” is just a dream and pressure cookers are great at saving beans that just won’t cook, even if they have stuff like sausage, bacon, and stock.

We had the beans over red rice, a kind of partially polished rice from Thailand that is nutty, chewy, and slightly sweet. That’s creme fraiche on top with a little green onion.

Especially considering this dish came back from the dead, we were quite happy with this first attempt. The flavor was just awesome — the stock in particular was quite rich and brought all the flavors together. The kidney beans were mostly creamy, but a little dry in parts. No worries, though – we’ll solve that by the end of the badge. It was particularly surprising how complex the flavor was given the few ingredients. Bacon and andouille spices definitely play well together!





Salt Roasting — Part I

7 02 2010

We didn’t expect to be cooking spot prawns (aka amaebi) this weekend, but on the suggestion of our excellent fish purveyor Tommy Gomes from Catalina Offshore Products, we decided to try these gorgeous things. I wish we had a picture of him fishing them out of their tank!

We were “lucky” (thanks Tommy!) enough to get prawns with roe, which we made into a really yummy snack that we’ll tell you about later. The row itself was pretty easy to remove. There is a light membrane that holds the eggs together and this is attached to the sides of the tail, but not to the middle. So, we just put our finger under the roe in the middle and pulled it off the sides. Here’s the roe on the prawn:

Now, we have never cooked amaebi before, and weren’t too sure of our sushi skills, so we weren’t totally sure what we would do. A little while ago, though, I had been reading about Michael Cimarusti from Providence in LA and had learned that he roasts his spot prawns in salt. In trying to find the recipe today, we realized he actually makes them in this episode of After Hours with Daniel. The idea is very straight — heat salt to 500 or 550, add some herbs, and embed the prawns in the salt. Wait 5 min or so and they are done. Pull the meat out of their shells and eat with olive oil.

Salt roasting is a technique that we have heard of, but haven’t put to any use. Before this, I had only heard of making a paste with salt, water, maybe egg white and herbs, and coating a fish with it before roasting in the oven. It turns out that you can do all sorts of things in a salt crust. The idea is that the inside steams because of the water inside the food, but once the water reaches the outside of the food, it quickly turns to steam in the hot salt. So, you get a crisp outside and a juicy, tender inside. Yum!

We started by heating two trays of salt to 500 in the oven. After the oven was heated, we waited 15 min for the salt to heat up.

We cleaned out the roe from our prawns and got them ready for the salt. One of the prawns was especially active and we cut through her head to kill her before we put her in the salt. The last time we got live crustaceans from Catalina (spiny lobster), they were so spunky that they tried to jump out of the boiling water we were trying to put them in! We weren’t taking any chances with these ones and the hot salt.

When salt was ready, we took out one of the trays and put some bay leaves in it.

Then, we placed the prawns in the salt.

We took out the other tray of salt and poured it over them. We used about 3 cups of Diamond Crystal salt for the top and bottom layers.

There were some prawns sticking out a little. We were worried they wouldn’t cook, so we put the whole thing in the oven at 500 for 5 min. When we took them out, the shells were lightly pink and still a little transparent, not the full pink that shrimp get when you boil them.

We broke one open and the tail was tender, juicy, and pearlescent white. We dipped them at first in some olive oil with salt and a bit of the roe. I think we need better olive oil for this, though! It was good with the oil, but the shrimp was best by itself with only the salt from your fingers to season it. It was light, almost creamy in flavor, and incredibly succulent, reminiscent of lobster, but not as heavy.

Some changes that we’ll make next time are that we will use more salt to cover them so we won’t need to put them in the oven. The prawns that were not completely covered in salt were not quite as well cooked as we would have liked, but the ones that were fully immersed were perfect. We’ll also cut them in half lengthwise before serving them — taking them apart with your hands can be fun, but is a bit of a mess!

We used the roe to make canapes with creme fraiche and a little red scallion on multi-grain toast. We though that the toast would be too strong, and it probably was a little, but the whole bite was exceptionally tasty. The roe is firm, with a rich flavor reminiscent of shrimp stock/bisque. It is very delicate, though, so a less flavorful base like french bread or a potato blini might be better.

The salt roasting really seems like a very powerful approach when you have a really good ingredient that you want to taste strongly of itself. We’re looking forward to learning more about it in the coming months.





Crispy Skin Duck — Part II

5 02 2010

Crispy Skin Duck — Part I

Well, it turns out that drying is a pretty important part of crispy skin. Here’s how it turned out. As you can see, the skin is crisp and a very nice brown color. The meat is firm and moist, not falling apart like the slow roasted duck.

Here’s how we got there.

We started with a lovely duck from our friends at Lee Wing Poultry. As in our first attempt, we pumped air under the skin with a bicycle pump to separate the skin from the flesh.

Then we introduced the trick we’re trying this time: drying the in refrigerator for 3 days to dry out the skin. We placed him on a vertical roaster so that air could circulate all around him while drying out in the refrigerator.

After a day, the skin was drier and a lighter brown/red color. The legs had not dried as much and were still white and soft.

The skin continued to dry another day.

On the morning of the third day, we poured a very light glaze over him. This was made of 2T honey, 1t salt, and a cup of water. It was heated until it all dissolved and then cooled to room temperature. We poured it over him twice before putting him in the fridge to dry out before we cooked him that night.

We placed him on a rack to collect the fat.

We roasted him at 425 for 15 min, followed by 1 hr 15 min @ 350. There was the option of raising the temp to 375 and cooking for another 15 min, but he seemed quite done at that point, so we let him rest for 20 min while we prepped the veggies.

We were actually shocked at how pretty he was coming out of the oven. Even though there was only a small amount of honey in the glaze, the skin browned up beautifully. He looked like he could have passed for a duck hanging up outside a Chinese BBQ.

We had a bag of mole negro that we had picked up from Specialty Produce that had been made by a company that sells in the Mercado de Abastos of Oaxaca. We had gotten lost there while visiting a couple years back and were really happy to have found the mole again. Next to the duck are some lovely brussels sprouts from Chino Nojo and our bacon.

Although the duck had gorgeous skin, there were a couple issues that are going to keep us playing with this for awhile.

One was that although the skin was crispy, it was thicker than we were expecting and somewhat leathery. We think that this may be due to the skin drying out too long. Next time, we will only dry 1-2 days.

There was also quite a bit more fat left on the duck than the slow roasted version. It did not render as much fat — only about 3/4c. Some of this fat stayed under the skin, which made for a rich duck, but maybe too rich for our tastes.

The final concern was that the flavor of the meat was not as good as it could have been. When we had the duck the next day, we found that a little salt was really the key. So, the meat when we first cooked it just wasn’t seasoned enough. This recipe had hardly any salt and we should have added more when we ate it.

If we try this this particular recipe again, we’ll cut the drying to 1-2 days, and salt the cavity or brine it for a few hours. It would be nice to get a bit more of the fat melted, but it was really tasty, so maybe we don’t have to work so hard on that one!

I am also very curious to see how cooking the duck in fat instead of roasting will alter the whole process. I think the next duck we’ll be playing with has a date with the deep fryer.





Crispy Skin Duck — Part I

28 01 2010

What I really want is to be able to make is Peking duck at home — with crispy skin and juicy, richly flavored meat. That turns out to be pretty difficult, and we might have a hard time getting there, but we’re getting to something pretty tasty in the meantime.

There are a lot of theories about how to best get crispy duck skin and getting this badge will mean trying a number of them out. Today, we are going to separate the skin from the flesh with a bicycle pump and slow roast the duck a la the “Five Hour Duck” recipe to see if that helps the skin get crispy.

First up, the duck. We have used frozen ducks from Ralph’s (a general grocery store) and 99 Ranch, but our favorite duck is from this place: Lee Wing Poultry. Another place that sells frozen duck, as well as pheasants, capons, and quails is Iowa Meat Farms.

On the review of Lee Wing Poultry, there is a review that says if you are not Vietnamese, not to go there because they will be mean to you. We’re not Vietnamese, and our experience has been that they were polite, but not terribly warm, on the first visit. By the third, they were smiling and remembered we liked the duck. Pretty much like any other place — if you’re nice, excited about the food, and give them business, they will be very nice in return.

Here’s our duck. He looks much better to us than what we have gotten when they are frozen: the skin is taut and the eyes are clear.

The main problem with cooking duck is that it is incredibly fatty. From a 5lb duck, you can get 1 1/2 – 2 cups of rendered duck fat. This is very tasty stuff, but if you don’t get it off the duck, the skin stays fatty and does not crisp up.

There are a number of ways to try to get the fat to melt. One way that seems to help is to separate the skin from the meat before cooking. You could do this with your fingers, but it is hard to get it all that way. Instead, enter the Bicycle Pump (or a firm straw, like bamboo, and powerful lungs). We use this one just for duck pumping, cover the tip with plastic wrap when we are using it, and clean it like a kitchen utensil.

Some sources suggest putting the pump or the straw into a hole at the top in the neck. This can be hard if you have bought a duck without a neck, but we have found that it is hard even when you have a duck with a neck that has been killed and sold in the Buddhist style with head & feet.

Instead, we have found that the spot at the bottom of the breast is quite effective. You stick in the pump nozzle between the skin and the flesh and go at it. If you are not getting air pumped under the skin, puffing up the skin, find a different spot and keep trying.

When you get a bunch of air in there, you can move the bubble around with your hands to get it to the hard-to-reach places like the back and legs.

When he was puffed up, we cut off his head and feet and placed him in a rack to cook. The Five Hour Duck recipe suggests cooking at 300F for 4 hours,followed by 1 hr at 350-400 to crisp. We have found this to be too long, drying out the meat, and are using 275F at 3 1/2 hours, followed by glazing and about 30 min at 350F. Here he is after the first hour.

And the second (flipped on his back):

And third:

And after the last half-hour at 275F:

We made a glaze of soy, ginger, duck broth from the liquid in the pan, green onion, honey, and candied yuzu peel with syrup. We reduced it by about half and then basted the duck every 5 min or so until it was done — caramelized, but not burned. It took just over 30 min to get there. Here he is cut up with some green onion after letting him rest for 15 min:

We served him with a type of Japanese bok choy sauteed with bacon, green garlic, and a splash of vermouth.

The flavor on this duck was excellent — rich, meaty flavor of duck with a light, slightly sweet glaze. The green onion works well, too. The texture of the meat comes out soft — it falls apart like after a long braise, which can be good or bad. It was slightly dry, but not as bad as how it was the first time we did it with the five hours. I think I like my duck meat to be firmer and juicier, but this is still very tasty. The skin had lost most of its fat, which was good, but it still was not very crispy. Great flavor, though.

We had leftovers the next day for brunch: cream puffs with a poached egg, roast duck, and creme fraiche. Very tasty, if not the easiest things to eat!

Most recipes for Five Hour Duck ask you to slash the skin, but this time, we did not do that and used the pump to separate the skin instead. It was effective at getting most the fat to drain away: we ended up with just over 1 1/2 cups of duck fat. The skin was left in large pieces, which was a good thing. However, it wasn’t enough to totally crisp the skin, even though it was effective at making a very tasty duck with flavorful and not too fatty skin.

An additional step that we are going to try is drying out the skin first. Often, Peking duck recipes ask you to dry the skin in front of a fan or in the fridge. So, tune in next time and we’ll add a drying step to see if that takes us to super crispy skin.