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Friday, December 3, 2010

Bite and Booze Entry: Marx's Foods Iron Foodie 2010 on Foodie BlogRoll




I recently had the pleasure of being selected as one of the top 25 challengers in the Marx Foods Iron Foodie 2010 contest on Foodie BlogRoll.  You can find the blog post that I wrote to enter here... but the best part was getting to cook with the secret ingredients that Marx Foods sent me!  I had no idea what to expect when I opened the package, but to my surprise there were some pretty interesting ingredients awaiting some culinary creativity.

Eight Products To Choose From
The challenge asked each competitor to choose three products from the group of eight secret ingredients.  My secret ingredients included:
  • Dried Aji Panca Chilies
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Fennel Pollen
  • Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms
  • Tellicherry Peppercorns
  • Dulse Seaweed
  • Maple Sugar
  • Smoked Sea Salt
The dish I decided to create was a pan-seared duck breast with smoked sea salt and dried Aji Panca chilies over a homemade Tellicherry peppercorn pasta with a wild Porcini mushroom cream sauce.  I got hungry just thinking about it.

The first step was to place a little bit of the smoked salt on the skin side of the duck breasts and let them sit over night in the refrigerator.  This helps to draw out the moisture in the skin and allow it to get extra flavorful and crispy when cooking the next day.

Duck Breasts with Smoked Sea Salt
Next I needed to rehydrate the dried wild porcini mushrooms, so I placed them in a bowl with some warm water.  I also gathered some of my other ingredients for sauce including shallots, olive oil, white wine, brandy, cream, butter, salt, and some tellicherry peppercorns.

Imgredients for the Wild Porcini Mushroom Sauce
Next it came time to make the pasta.  I gathered the flour, eggs, water, olive oil, salt, and crushed black peppercorns and then starting combining them to make the dough.  

Tellicherry Peppercorn Pasta Ingredients
After I got the pasta rolled out and cut, it was time to put the focus back on the porcini mushroom cream sauce.  I started with cooking down the shallots in olive oil.  After they were translucent, I added the brandy and white wine (1 cup each), peppercorns, and mushrooms, then let that reduce about before adding a cup of cream.  Once that had reduced about halfway, I started whisking in the butter.

Wine, Brandy, Shallots, Mushrooms, and Peppercorns Reducing
Wild Porcini Mushroom Cream Sauce
Now that my sauce was left to just simmer and let the flavors continue to meld together, all I had to do was boil my pasta and cook the duck breasts.  I put the homemade pasta in boiling salted water and let it get nice and tender.

Boiling the Homemade Peppercorn Pasta
And now the highlight: I added a little bit of chili oil that I made with the dried Aji Panca chilies and olive oil to a pan, sprinkled some chili seeds on the salted duck breasts, and seared the duck skin-side down for a few minutes to ensure a crispy skin.

Duck Breasts Searing in Chili Oil
After I got a good sear on the skin side, I flipped the breasts over, seared the bottom very briefly, then moved the pan to the oven with the skin up.  I let them continue to cook in a 400 degree oven for about 8-9 minutes, then removed them and let the duck rest for a bit.

Crispy-Skin Duck Breasts Moved to the Oven
Smoked Sea Salt and Aji Panca Chili Duck Breasts Resting Before Being Sliced
Now that everything was cooked, all I had to do was plate the dish.  I move the boiled pasta into the pan that the duck breasts cooked in with little chili oil residue.  I then ladled some of the mushroom cream sauce on to the pasta and tossed that around to get coated really well.  I started the plate with the pasta and cream sauce at the bottom and then topped that with a sliced duck breast, then finished the dish with a drizzle of the cream sauce over the duck and a little parsley for garnish.  Bon Appetit!

Finished Product: Seared Duck Breast with Smoked Sea Salt and Dried Aji Panca Chilies over Homemade Tellicherry Peppercorn Pasta with a Wild Porcini Mushroom Cream Sauce
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