Remember ‘confit of duck in afternoon light’? Here it is again three weeks later with some new friends. I wanted to take from Larousse Gastronomique the flavours that traditionally accompany confit of duck or goose, turn them into a meal and photograph it a retro kind of way, yet not quite as retro as my 1977 edition of Gastronomique. Wild mushrooms, potatoes, bitter greens, sweet peas, white beans and lentils are all traditional according to the bible.
This dish has bitter yet creamy, braised witlof with earthy, sweet roasted beetroot and buttered new potatoes with parsley. Cooking methods are kept light and simple so as not to induce any health complications. I am very surprised at myself for cooking such a wintry dish at the start of March but who can explain the weather this ‘summer’?
Duck: dig out of duck fat and heat in oven, skin side down, in fry pan or oven pan, until skin browned and crisp, about 25 minutes.
Witlof: braise in oven dish, dotted with butter, with duck stock half way up side of witlof, covered in foil for 30 minutes, uncover and cook another 30 minutes
Beetroot: sprinkle with sea salt, wrap in two layers of foil, roast 1 hour
Potatoes: boil until cooked, toss through butter, chopped parsley and salt and pepper.
The juices in the photo above are from the witlof mixed with the beetroot and nothing else. The juices from cooking the witlof should be reduced down to a few tablespoons after their time in the oven, if not then reduce in a sauce pan until a light sauce consistency. After an hour the beetroot should be very tender and once they have cooled the skin should come off easily.
The result? The flavours are perfect with one another. It pays to heed the masters and follow tradition, so long as you can add your own stamp, I think.