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Tandoori duck breast with duck skin crackling and other feasts of the


Zacky
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So once again, I have two plump duck breasts sitting in the fridge. When I bought them, I had images of scored, crispy skin, rare meat; blood infusing a zesty puy lentil side and red wine swirling around my mouth, bringing it all together in a very French way.

Then the wife demanded Indian and, being very pregnant, she gets what she wants! A quick leaf through all my recipe books and a trawl on the Internet threw up very little, so finally, I allowed my imagination to run with it and here's the end product:

tandoori spice-marinaded breasts, seared to rare in a pan, served with the skin, removed before cooking, rendered to a crispy crackling, redolent with garlic and ginger paste and dusted red with tandoori spice mix at the end.

The breast part I can do, but how about the skin crackling part? Then I started to remember all the other wild recipes I've dreamed up over the years (crispy bacon 'boxes' filled with pea and scallop puree), which have never seen the light of fridge door due to time/budget/ability restraints.

So, this thread (and if I'm replicating a pre-existing thread, I humbly beg pardon and shall be merged most willingly) has 2 elements:

  1. Please help me with advice on achieving duck breast crackling
  2. Pray share your most ambitious, but never realised gastro creations!

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In his In Search of Perfection series, Heston Blumenthal made his duck crackling by sewing the skins to a cooling rack so they wouldn't curl, pricking the surface with a needle, rendering them in a low oven then popping them back into a hot oven to crisp. You'll have to decide for yourself if it's worth the effort or not. :biggrin:

My yet to be accomplished idea is something I've been working on for quite a while now (on and off). The process isn't difficult but doing it with ingredients that don't mess with the taste has been difficult so I'm still working on it. I put it on the back burner for a while then get a new idea and try it again. So far I haven't got a result I'm happy with. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, I'm not going to say what it is I'm working on right now. It's not anything revolutionary or anything, I've just been working on it so long that it would be kinda depressing at this point to reveal it and have someone say "oh, that's simple... just do this". :raz:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Sewing the skins to a rack to hold them flat sounds like a lot of unnecessary work. Couldn't you weight them flat with, say, a bacon press and render them in a low oven?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Probably. Heston wasn't happy with the results doing it that way but that's keeping in mind that he was going for the most extreme version of the dishes he was recreating in that series so maybe it would be fine 99% of the time. The only time I've wanted to crisp skin away from the bird was when I was crisping some chicken skin to pulverize for a croquant. I didn't care if it curled so I just threw them on a rack and tossed them in the oven.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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At the risk of sounding like a jerk, I'm not going to say what it is I'm working on right now. It's not anything revolutionary or anything, I've just been working on it so long that it would be kinda depressing at this point to reveal it and have someone say "oh, that's simple... just do this".

I'm intrigued! Thanks for the Heston idea. I think I'll try pinning the edges of the skins to a baking tray with some fire bricks and see how that works, maybe with the garlic and ginger paste underneath so the crisping can take place above.

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