Guest Post: E’s Rock Candy Bulleit Julep

Bulleit

Guest post from Eric!  With bonus Civil War trivia.

While I wouldn’t normally advise adulterating Bulleit with mint, making mint juleps with Jack Daniels results in a product that is only so-so, although the Jack Daniels honey version is passable. Bulleit is a prudent choice for this kind of thing because it’s a quality Mintbourbon at a reasonable price, so you don’t sacrifice taste and can still feel good about committing the deadliest of all sins (not simply enjoying bourbon for what it is).

This drink is great to make on a summer day in February (can you tell we live in Austin?). The actual work is only about 10 minutes, as most of the process is just letting the syrup cool and congeal in the fridge. If you have to walk to the liquor store, as I did today, that’ll add 20 minutes to the process, but again, it’s Austin so that’s just a bonus.

If you have a non-ironic portrait of Robert E. Lee handy, it’s best to toast it before your first sip. If not, just toast any nearby old people with beards, or walk to the statue on campus and toast the grackles. If you live in Baltimore, walk to the statue of Lee and Jackson on the eve of Chancellorsville and toast the horses. Okay, I’m done.

Ingredients:

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 small piece of rock candy, left over from Christmas
2 tbsp local honey
1 bottle of delicious Bulleit bourbon

Steps:

1. In a small tea pot, combine ripped up mint leaves and honey.

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2. Throw in the rock candy.

3. Add boiling water.

4. Let steep for at least 20 minutes, to make a mint/sugar tea.

5. Pour out mint tea into separate container, and throw in any additional mint that’s handy.

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6. Close container, put in fridge, let cool for at least an hour.

7. Take out container, strain contents (if loose mint is in there)now you have a simple mint syrup.

8. Combine mint syrup and delicious Bulleit1 part mint syrup to 2-3 parts bourbon, to tasteand one or two ice cubes.

9. Consume gleefully.

10. Discuss to anyone present how the South shall rise again.

11. Tip hat.

Bulleit


/INSUFFERABLE HIPSTER IRONY

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How to Roast a Duck

Roast duck

Yes, that’s a duck’s beak.

1. Procure a duck.

8403790201_72db80a5fe_nWe’d been talking about how great it would be to get a whole duck and roast it. Our friend Jeff has recently taken up duck hunting, but hasn’t had much luck so far.

We heard that there might be a duck purveyor at the Mueller Farmer’s Market, so we went there one Sunday morning. We grabbed some coffee and cash and spent a good hour browsing the stalls; they have so much good stuff!

After fearing we’d have to settle for an eight dollar jar of duck fat, we finally noticed that the Countryside Farm stand was selling duck in addition to chicken, eggs, and charcuterie. Sebastien Bonneu sells whole ducks (complete with their heads, as above), breasts, and legs.

We pondered the options for about ten seconds before putting our money down on a whole duck. It was $42.00 and weighed nearly seven pounds. Keep in mind as you read on that duck fat usually runs about a dollar an ounce, and duck broth goes for about three dollars per ounce!

2. Roast the duck.

If your duck is frozen, let it thaw out overnight (or up to 24 hours, depending on its size) in a refrigerator, in its original wrapping.

When it’s fully thawed, preheat your oven to 325°.

If necessary, gut the duck.

After much hand-wringing and YouTube-video-watching, we finally stuck a hand in our duck and realized that it had been gutted, its guts stored neatly in plastic bags inside the cavity. We took those out and set them aside for later (duck pâté, anyone?).

Rinse the duck and pat dry with paper towels.

Slice off any excess fat (with special attention to the duck’s hind quarters). Set aside for later.

Grease a large roasting pan (we used olive oil).

Place the duck in the roasting pan, breast up.

Stuff the duck with the spices or other foodstuffs of your choice. We used lemon, orange, roughly chopped garlic, and sprigs of homegrown rosemary and thyme, tied with twine. Do not overstuff your bird, like a Thanksgiving turkey. You want air to get in and around the seasonings for even cooking.

Truss the duck with twine. Grab both legs, pull tight, crossing one over the other, and tie. This will still leave an opening to the cavity, which is what you want, as previously discussed. You can also tie the wings, if desired; I left the wings and head as they were.

A note about the head: You can remove the head before cooking, if desired. There’s not much use for it, as it has little meat (aside from the brain and tongue), and, if used in a stock, will impart a slightly metallic taste (or so I hear). We decided to leave the head on, Chinese style.

Score the skin diagonally as below—just through the skin, not into the flesh. Then use the tip of your knife to poke a few tiny holes in the skin, like you would a potato! This will allow the bird to release more fat, making for a crispier skin.Trussed duck

Add a light glaze of olive oil to the skin using a medium pastry brush, and roast the duck in the oven for an hour.

e. basting the duckRemove the pan, and turn the duck over so that it’s breast-side-down.

Baste the underside in the juices from the pan, and roast for another hour.

Remove the pan again, turning back over so it’s breast up, as it to serve.

Your duck will now be getting nice and crispy. Remove most of the liquid fat from the pan and set aside.

Glaze the duck. We used a mixture of orange glaze: the juice and zest of one orange and one lemon, 2 tablespoons of raw honey, salt, and pepper. Again, baste in any remaining pan juices.

Return the pan to the oven and cook for another 30-60 minutes, depending on bird size.

After a total cooking time of two and a half hours, check the internal temperature periodically using a meat thermometer. The duck is fully cooked and ready to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°. This will probably take at least three hours.

Roast duck

3. Render your own duck fat.

While your duck is roasting, you can make your own duck fat!

First, strain the liquid fat from the pan. We strained the fat into a wide mouth Mason jar, using cheesecloth to separate the fat and crispy pieces from the liquid. If your fat is still a little cloudy, feel free to strain it again. Leave the resulting liquid fat uncovered while you render the rest of the fat from the bird.

Take the solid pieces of fat you sliced off the duck earlier and chop them up into smallish pieces. Place these in a pan with a little water—enough to entirely submerge the fat. Simmer over medium low heat until the liquid is a nice golden color.

Rendering duck fat

Time will depend on how much fat you have, but it took me about 30 minutes to render the fat from our seven pound duck. Watch the fat boiling, and note the color. It will get darker, and the simmering bubbles will get much smaller as the water escapes the pan. Be careful not to burn it—this stuff is premium.  Our bird resulted in about a cup and a half of rendered fat!

Duck fatFollow the same process from earlier, straining the fat through cheesecloth, allowing it to cool for at least a half hour, then seal and place in the refrigerator.

Now you have delicious duck fat, which can be used for any high temperature frying for which you’d use bacon fat or schmaltz (like my Schmaltz Roasted Potatoes with Crunchy Sage). It should keep for a few months in the fridge, or up to a year in the freezer (however, you’ll eat it way before you get to that point!).

4. Carve the duck.

When you’ve determined that the duck is done—golden brown and crispy on the outside, 165° and juicy on the inside—, remove it from the oven and turn off the heat.

Duck carvingAllow the duck to sit for about ten minutes.

Carve the duck as you would chicken or turkey. Everyone wants the succulent breast pieces first, and I don’t blame them!

If using a sauce, drizzle it over your duck (I whipped up a quick, thin sauce using additional orange juice and honey, plus a little tamari), and serve immediately.

Shred any leftover meat and save for later. We ate duck salad, duck with collards, and duck scrambles for a couple of days before freezing the remainder.

Fresh roasted duck breast

Freshly roasted duck breast, with crispy skin.  Delicious.

5. Make duck broth.

Duck carcassUsing a large butcher knife, chop up all the bones and any meat leftover from your duck carcass. Chop into medium to small pieces, to release as much flavor as possible.

Place all of this in a large stock pot, along with any vegetables or vegetable scraps (I used a mirepoix put together specifically for this purpose, purchased from Johnson’s Backyard Garden the very same morning I picked up the duck).

Add a sprig of herbs (I again used homegrown, fresh thyme and rosemary, tied with twine).

Cover with water and bring just to a boil, then immediatey reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer, uncovered, for three to four hours.

Skim off any soapy residue as it rises to the top.

Duck broth

After three to four hours (your kitchen will smell amazing by this point), you’re ready to strain. Start by removing all the large pieces of bone and veg with a large slotted spoon. Set aside.

Once all the large pieces have been removed, it’s time to strain. I put a large plastic strainer in an even larger plastic mixing bowl, then lined the strainer with cheesecloth. I then poured the broth through the strainer. If you have a proper sieve, even better! Use that, pouring the strained broth into another bowl. As with the fat, strain multiple times if necessary. If the cloth becomes clogged with duck debris, rinse it and reuse.

Straining duck broth

If you want an even more concentrated broth, pour this first broth into a new pot and simmer down to desired strength.

Note: I did not add salt or pepper to this broth, so that the result would be neutral and useful for a variety of purposes. Salt can be added to taste in cooking.

Duck brothPour the broth into a sealed container (or containers, as at left—we ended up with more than ten cups of broth!). It will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Or you can freeze it (as I did); it should last for at least six months, maybe up to a year.

Finally, use the boiled-down bits of carcass as a fertilizer for your garden!

And that is how you make the most of a duck. I’d say it’s well worth the $42.00 and time, wouldn’t you?

Thanksgiving by Wheatsville

Our casual Thanksgiving table for three.

Yes, I should’ve cleaned the candlestick holders and ironed the napkins.

Our Thanksgiving dinner by Wheatsville (clockwise from top): green beans with almonds; spicy German potato salad; vegan macaroni and cheese with broccoli; cornbread dressing; white bread dressing with sausage; turkey medallions with mushroom and wild rice stuffing; cranberry sauce from a can (not my choice!); and, by Eric: roasted potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, with homegrown rosemary.  Plus red wine and rosemary biscuits from Wheatsville (possibly the best part—delicious!).

Wheatsville’s pecan pie was to die for. One of the best I have ever had.

And Fluffster didn’t even eat any turkey!

Of course, the leftovers are the best part:

For brunch on Friday, I made leftover turkey sandwiches with toasted rolls, cornbread dressing, and cranberry sauce. The best.

And we can’t forget the best part of all: Eric’s Pumpkin Roll.

We’ll probably be making another soon, as the crop of pumpkins down at our allotment garden is almost ready to harvest!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Check back on Thursday for an easy recipe idea for some of those holiday leftovers!

Stella’s Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Believe it or not, I’m not cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year, even though I’ll be at home the whole holiday weekend!

Last year it was just me and Eric, and our menu was a mixture of homemade and Wheatsville.  This year, we’re hosting my mom, who’s down from Paris, Texas, for the first time in exactly four years (she hates the drive, and I don’t blame her!).  I was originally planning to make my great grandmother Tollie’s cornbread dressing, and my mom even made a phone call to our Aunt Barbara to refresh her memory regarding the recipe, which neither she nor I have made since I came home from the UK for Christmas in 2003 (I think!).

But as the list of ingredients got longer and longer, and I considered the fact that I don’t have a dishwasher, and worried about the allergy attack I was suffering last weekend turning into a full blown illness, I decided the dressing with have to wait till Christmas.  I’ll make it in early December and post in time for your Christmas menu planning.  And when I finally post the recipe, you’re in for a treat!

Meanwhile, if you’re still searching for some fairly unfussy but crowd-satisfying dishes for your holiday table, check out some of my Thanksgiving recipe ideas, below.

We’re buying a garlic chive cheese ball from Wheatsville, but if you want to approximate that addictive, nostalgic flavor with a simpler recipe that keeps well, try Debbie’s Delicious Cheese Spread, one of my favorite family treats.

If you’re like us, and have more pumpkins than you know what to do with, try Stella’s Pumpkin Soup.

Okay, okay.  I lied.  I will actually be making my Southern Sweet Potatoes tomorrow morning while my mom drives down.

This morning on KUT, John Aielli was on a rant about how he hates sweet potatoes, and is tired of people trying to “fool” him into liking them, by making them into things like sweet potato chips (?).  After playing a few Calexico songs, he changed his tune and raved for a full ten minutes about Bettie Winn Reeves Harris’ sweet potato pie recipe.  If you make it, I’d like to hear what you think about it.  Apparently, this is the only way John Aielli can eat sweet potatoes.  Oh, dear.

For an even easier sweet potato solution, try my Perfect Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

If you’re like John Aielli and still hate ’em, try my Pesto-Tossed New Potatoes instead.

And you know you want some Macaroni and Cheese.  This one’s special.

Another of my favorite recipes on this site, that happens to be pretty Thanksgiving-y, is this one for Pecan-Stuffed Delicata Squash.  This one is a little more involved, but the result is so filling and flavorful that it makes a great alternative main for a vegetarian holiday celebration.  Something about the combination of nuts and sage approximates sausage, and I just can’t get enough of it.

A similar dish for meat eaters is my Bacon-Stuffed Acorn Squash.  I suggest pairing this with some Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Another great main dish for vegetarians: Autumn Vegetable Fritters with Homemade Applesauce.  Or, save these for your Chanukkah party.

Another really easy, budget-friendly recipe that’s sure to please are these Roasted Parsnips and Carrots. Parsnips are a wonderful tuber to which I was first introduced at a typical English Sunday roast dinner. If your local market has them, try them like this first to see if you like their flavor. I love them.

For the opposite end of the diet spectrum, this sweet and low-carb alternative to pumpkin pie is sure to please any primal eaters: Paleo Pumpkin Pudding.

Finally, this is a picture I took this morning, of Eric’s Pumpkin Roll.  We sampled it for breakfast, but there’s enough left to see us through the weekend.  Though he says it’s “more of a pumpkin lasagna,” this sweet dish is both pretty and pretty filling!  He used homegrown pumpkins from our allotment garden again, so it tastes that much better.

Review: Dog and Duck Pub

I can’t believe I haven’t written a whole post about the Dog and Duck Pub yet!

When I moved back to Austin from the UK in 2006, I chose my apartment based on proximity to the Capitol and the University (one of which I hoped to be employed by, both of which I have worked at in the past six years)… and Dog and Duck.

I’ve been a quasi-regular since 1998, when I was underage and enjoyed Cherry Cokes, fish and chips, and the Anglophile ambiance of the place.  Since moving into the neighborhood, I’m a fixture; the boy and I stop in at least twice a week on average.

Not only is the place cozy, unpretentious, and shockingly pub-like, but they also have the best staff in town, excellent food, a great jukebox, and an unrivaled selection of draught beers (about 40 at recent count, plus another 30 bottles and cans).

Rather than do a traditional review, I’m just going to present a photo essay of Dog and Duck’s greatest hits.

Here’s a basic grilled cheese with a huge pile of french fries.  They also do a deluxe grilled cheese with fresh basil and three cheeses.  Fancy!

The bar.  See the current beer selection and specials here.  Don’t miss Tuesday pint night—all regular beers are on special, $3.00-3.50 per pint.  They also serve wine and a selection of soft drinks (free refills on the latter!).

Shepherd’s pie.  I had never ordered a shepherd’s pie at Dog and Duck until a few weeks ago, believe it or not, but it was really great, so now I’m on a shepherd’s pie kick.  Perfect for cool nights.  Mmm.

Best fish and chips in town, hands down.  There’s a reason they regularly win the Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll “Best Pub Grub” award!  Crispy batter, flaky white fish, lemon wedges, malt vinegar—served on a bed of expertly fried fries.  What could be better?  That’s right—nothing.  Available as a full or half order!

I am also a big fan of the lamb gyro.  This constitutes a light meal at Dog and Duck!  The tzatziki is cool and refreshing; the feta is crumbly and generous; and the lamb is perfect!  Succulent, flavorful, and a little crunchy around the edges.  I want one right now just thinking about it.

Though most famous for their fish and chips and other pub grub, Dog and Duck also has one of the best burgers in town, for my money.  I order a burger half the time, probably!  This is a standard cheeseburger and fries.  Their burgers are made from scratch; I don’t know the actual weight, but very often I suspect it’s a half pounder, because I can’t even finish it.  Eric and I actually split a burger and fries quite often.  They also have a really good veggie burger, which we order on occasion.

Dog and Duck is a great hangout for watching the English Premiere League; most games are on if they’re on air during their opening hours.  And they also have a dart board and pinball machine.  BYO chess, though.

Another classic British dinner: bangers and mash (I can’t believe I don’t have my own recipe up; must rectify that shortly!).  This is a huge, huge plate.  Don’t order it unless you are ravenous, plan to be there a long time, or have a friend to help!  It’s so good, though.  Three pan-fried sausages topped with onions and gravy, served with a scoop of mashed potatoes, a large side of baked beans, and two giant slices of Texas toast.  You can’t go wrong with this, mate.

Didn’t I tell you the atmosphere is pretty nice?

Here’s my favorite speciality hamburger: the Spicy Black and Blue Burger!  It comes with bleu cheese, bacon, and adobo sauce.  To.  Die.  For.

On the lighter side, you might also fancy a nice salad, like this Caesar with chicken.  The salads are large enough to make a whole meal, and are always fresh and tasty.  You might not think of this when considering lunch at the pub, but I highly recommend you try one!  They have several big, hearty salads on the menu.

Dog and Duck also puts on the largest St. Patrick’s Day party in Austin.  It’s an institution.  Here’s KUT’s beloved Ed Miller and the amazing Rich Brotherton on stage at this year’s celebration.  I have to say, though I enjoy this raucous day and night at Dog and Duck, I don’t understand why they don’t do anything for St. George’s Day, or have a regular EPL schedule.  Since they’re an English pub and all…  The place becomes Irish for one day a year.  It’s pretty funny.

Finally, they also have amazing lunch specials.  Many state and UT workers head over on their lunch break to take advantage.  I had this soup, salad, and sandwich combo last week with my friend Phillip: spicy potato and chipotle creamed soup; bacon, cheddar, and arugula melt on sourdough with onion and a sriracha sauce; side salad. Including a soft drink (free refills), it’s a steal at $8.50!  I already posted a closeup of the bacon sandwich in last week’s This Week’s Eats, but check it out.  This was the best bacon sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.

If this post made you drool, get on over there right now!  Today’s lunch special is a pesto turkey pita melt: grilled turkey with bacon bits, balsamic tomatoes, arugula, parmesan pesto spread, mozzarella, and Romano cheese on a toasted pita. Served with chips, fries, or lightly battered asparagus—$8.50!

You can find out about daily specials by liking Dog and Duck’s Facebook page, following them on Twitter, or checking their web site.  It’s usually announced on Facebook first.

Cheers, and see you there!

Dog and Duck Pub
406 West 17th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 479-0598