My initial reaction to "What should we do tonight?" was going to be something along the lines of "Uhh, I don't know. Maybe a burger? A beer? Something casual?" But I didn't even have the opportunity to mutter those silly words of apprehensive indecisiveness because the question was answered for me, with "I have duck breasts to cook."
A mere five minutes prior, I had been frantically tearing recipe after recipe out of the October issue of Food & Wine while re-organizing my recipe binder (yes, that's right) and had come across one for Duck Breasts with Crispy Potatoes and Frisée Salad. To be honest, I've never cooked duck. And not only have I never cooked it, but I rarely even eat it--and never think to order it when I'm at a restaurant. But that is not to say that I do not enjoy it. And when someone's offering to cook you duck breasts, you'd have to be an unsophisticated idiot to decline.
Not one for appearing unsophisticated or idiotic, I ran over to the produce market to grab my contributions to the meal. Yukon gold potatoes, some thyme, a head of frisée, and a round of goat's milk brie for snacking on during the 45 minute confit process the potatoes were about to go through.
That's right, we were confit'ing the potatoes. As soon as I carefully transfered the pan of potato slices with a garlic clove and a sprig of thyme covered, entirely, with oil, and glanced to my left to see duck breasts being scored and generously seasoned with salt and pepper, I couldn't help but kind of laugh to myself. "This is a pretty fancy little meal, no?" To which he couldn't help but laugh too and exclaimed "We're fancy!"
I'll tell you what's fancy, though. The 2008 Man O' War Syrah. I couldn't shut myself up about how unbelievably delicious it was. Deep, dark, and rich without being overwhelmingly fruity or sweet. It was far and away one of the best (if not the best) bottle of red I've ever come across.
Survey says? The recipe needs some tweaking--no two ways about it. The confit'ed potatoes, for as much fat and time they took, retained almost no flavor. And for a root vegetable to be fried in duck fat after confit'ing in garlic and thyme to have little to no flavor is almost frightening. Terrifying, really. The recipe also called for adding white truffle oil to the vinaigrette for the frisée. And while I'm down for white truffle oil to be drizzle on anything, the white wine vinegar kind of killed it. I suggested doing a dijon mustard-pomegranate vinaigrette next time. And saving the truffle oil for the potatoes, hot and crispy out of the oven.
And to continue the air of fanciness, the evening concluded with a friendly little push-up and leg lift competition which will not be discussed here any further. But I will tell you this: I'm reminded of it every time I laugh. Because laughing...hurts.