Fricassee of Duck and Puff Pastry

 Hello everybody. This is going to be the first recipe entry for Chef Steve on the Olitas blog. We’re going to start out making a classic puff pastry dough in which we are going to use with a Fricassee of Free Range Duck with cippoline onions, oyster mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and baby carrots. But first things first.
Puff Pastry. Here’s the recipe for a small batch.
2# Flour
2oz of butter
1 Tbls Salt
1 1/2 c of Water…you can add a tad more if the dough is too firm
Roll in butter
1# 2oz of butter
2oz of flour
   Puff pastry is different from other turned doughs because it has no yeast in it. The leavening agent is the steam from the butter as it melts which makes it rise. If you follow a few simple steps you can create a nice dough/butter layer system that will insure your success. Puff Pastry can be used for both sweet and savory applications.
First off we are going to make the dough ball. In a Kitchen Aid or some other similar mixer mix the flour, salt, and butter with the paddle. Mix just long enough to incorporate the butter into the  flour. Remove the paddle and replace it with the hook. Add the water and reserve a touch of it. Let the machine knead the dough until it is smooth yet not too soft. Maybe about 5 minutes. If it is too hard You do not need to develop a gluten structure like you do with bread. That would only make it snap back some when you go to roll it out. When it is firm turn it out on a board and shape it into a semi flat cylinder (see picture#2) and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate.
While its chilling down its time to make the butter block. In the mixer with the paddle mix the buter and the flour until smooth. Don’t fluff it. You just want to make it malleable. Remove it from the mixer and shape it into a flat rectangle. wrap in paper or plastic and refrigerate.Here’s the important part. You want to refrigerate both pieces until they are about the same hardness. You want them malleable so maybe a half hour or so.
Once you have the butter encased in the dough you want to roll in out into a even rectangle. Flour the board and start rolling. Don’t force it . If it wants to pull back on you let it relax for a few minutes and proceed again. Do this until you have a nice rectangle.
Once it is a rectangle you need to fold each end into the middle. see pics. Then fold it over again. see pics. This is called a double turn.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and roll it out again into a rectangle. Repeat the double turn, wrap and refrigerate. Let it rest in the fridge for an hour. Remove and roll out again. Repeat the double turn, wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hrs. Remove and let it soften up for about a half hour. Roll into a rectangle again and do the double turn. This makes a total of 4 double turns.  During the rolling process  be patient and don’t force it. You ideally don’t want to push the butter out of the dough. It’s not the end of the world, but it makes it a little harder to handle if it sticks to the board . If it sticks just make sure the board is well floured. Be suer to brush off the extra flour between turns. You can now wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. Puff pastry keeps well in the fridge for a few days. If you wrap it in plastic and foil it freezes great. We make it in large batches, cut it into pieces and freeze it.  Let it defrost slowly in the fridge while wrapped. When you refrigerate it make sure it is tightly wrapped.
Puff pastry is a bit of a chore to make, but well worth the effort. Unless you are a baker it’s a bit of a lost art in the kitchen. There are a myriad of uses for it from savory to sweet. There are savory Napoleons as well as dessert Napoleons. Parmentiers, turnovers and on and on. Use your imagination! Be creative! This is what cooking is all about. I’ll follow this up with a recipe for a duck fricassee with a puff pastry top. A nice simple application for the puff. With the weather chilling down this is comfort food at its best and something that can be made well ahead. Cheers and enjoy!

Fricassee of Duck

Here’s the ingredients: serves 8
2 Ducks
2 onion
6 ribs of celery
3 carrot
6 oregano sprigs
1/2 bunch of thyme
6 parsley sprigs
1 tbls. chopped garlic
2 ancho chiles
2 chipotle chilis
4 Bay Leaves
Duck fat
duck or chicken stock
1c of good dry reisling wine
6 oz or so of chipollini onions peeled
1 bunch of baby carrots…tops removed and peeled
6oz of oyster mushrooms
1/2 # of fingering potatoes
About 6 Jimmy Nardellos Sweet Peppers
a little flour salt pepper and cornstarch
Ok Boys and Girls here goes. First off you want to remove the legs and breasts. Leave the bones in the legs. Take the duck carcasses and brown them in the oven until they are a rich brown color. Pour off the fat and save it. we’ll use it later. place the duck in a pot with an onion, 4 ribs of celery, and 2 carrots. cover with water and add a couple of bay leaves, dry rosemary, dry thyme and some cracked black peppercorns. This will be the duck stock. To make a great sauce it is VERY important to have a good stock specific to the dish. Bring the stock to a boil and then simmer it for 3-4 hrs or leave it at a whisper overnight. Strain and reserve.
Once you have the stock made melt a little duck fat, salt and pepper the duck pieces and brown them until they are golden brown. remove from the rondo and pour off most of the fat. Now add a onion…just rough cut, 2 ribs of celery and a carrot. Sweat them in the duck fat until the onions become a little translucent. Now add the fresh oregano, the thyme, garlic, the chilis and a couple of bay leaves. Sweat for a few more minutes and the add about 1/4 c of flour. Stir it in well. This will give the sauce some body and will cook out by the time the duck is tender. Now add the reisling. This is called deglazing and it will lift all the yummy brown stuff from the bottom of your rondo!. Place the duck pieces back in the rondo and cover with the stock. Bring it up to almost a boil and cover. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Don’t boil it…this will make it tough. You should have gentle bubbles as my Master Chef Silvio Plaz used to say! Basically cook it until the leg meat is very tender and can be easily removed from the bone.
Now remove the duck, set it aside and strain the sauce.
Let the sauce stand for a while and then ladle off any excess fat. Duck can be a little greasy and we don’t want that in our sauce!
Now you want to slice the fingerlings, slice the baby carrots, peel the chipollinis, top, seed  and cut the Nardellos into thumbnail size pieces and break up the oyster shrooms. Just shred them with your fingers. remove the duckmeat from the bones and cut the breasts into bite size pieces.
OK. Now we are ready to roll. Toss the fingerlings in a little olive oil, salt and pepper them and roast them in the oven until they are lightly browned. Saute the chipollinis in a little duck fat. Likewise with the baby carrots.. Now sauté the oyster shrooms in a little butter or olive oil until tender, add the Nardellos and cook until they are tender. Add the chipollinis, the baby carrots and the potatoes. Add the duck pieces and cover everything with the sauce. Get it up to a boil and add a little cornstarch dissolved in some Riesling. pour it into the sauce. This will tighten it up a little, you a looking for a nappe or so the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Simmer for about 10 min. and remove from the heat. You are now ready to reap the fruit of your labor!
Now that you’ve gotten this far, and congratulations if you have for his is a fairly complicated dish but well worth your effort! Laddle the Fricassee into some soufflé dishes or some large ramekins. They should be about 16 oz. Now roll out the puff pastry that you made to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut circles out that are about an inch wider than your dishes. 1/4 inch is a little heavy for puff but you are going to stretch them out a little. Put a little eggwash on the underside of the puff around the edges. This will help to make them stick to the dishware. Now place them on the dishes and secure them to the sides of the dishes. Let them rest for about 20 min. and eggwash them twice. Now you can bake them off in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the puff is golden brown and they are steaming hot. This is winter comfort food at its best.
  These can be made ahead of time if you are expecting guests. You can complete them and refrigerate them the day before with no problem. Then when your guests arrive all you have to do is jack them in the oven when the time is right. Give them a little longer if they are cold coming out of the fridge. Enjoy!!