One of the questions I’ve been receiving a lot over the past few months is….“Are you all still doing your Sunday Family Dinners?”
And the answer is—absolutely YES!
But the truth of the matter is……
Well, you see…..
So, the reason is………..
I’m a terrible Procrastinator.
GAH! The cat is out of the bag!
It’s terrible, I know. Particularly because I spend hours a day
scolding coaching college students on how to avoid procrastination.
Trust me, the
hypocrisy irony is not lost on me.
So yes…since my last Sunday Family Dinner post in July (insert puppy eyes, shamed face here), mi familia still converge at one of the seesters‘ home and get together to get our cookin’ and eatin’ on.
And it’s been darn delicious too.
I definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to share the past dinners (for my own personal food diary motives and also to share some tasty eats) so I’m committed to posting one recap a week until I catch up.
So hold me to it!
Our March fam-din theme was born the way most of ours come to fruition……..while we’re currently eating/feasting on that particular month’s dinner. Does any one else sit around the table with their family enjoying a meal while talking about what their next meal will be?
Just us? Figures…
Well, the theme for March started off with a single ingredient – DUCK. All the dishes were supposed to contain duck in some sort or fashion.
With the exception of dessert….because we may be adventurous but duck flavored dessert did not excite any of us.
Since foie gras is now legal again in California, we were planning on having a variation for appetizers. But at the last minute, foie was no where to be found and we didn’t have the time to get it shipped to us. No biggie…we just had to make a few alterations.
After doing a little research, I opted to pick up whole ducks from a local Asian grocery store as it was the most affordable route for us. Just a little FYI–most ducks sold at Asian grocers are Long Island (Pekin). So I swung on by our nearby 99 Ranch Market and picked up two duckies. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that they still had their heads and feet intact until I got home.
I admit, I got a little nervous as I stared into their little eyes. But after a pep talk from big seester (more like a “c’mon, just do it!”), I put on my big girl pants and butchered/broke them down. After a quick thank you to the duckies for feeding us and the initial eebie-jeebies, I got over it. Hey, if I’m going to be a responsible carnivore, I’ve got to do the dirty work sometimes.
The main dish was to be a slow cooked sugo of duck with fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. But since we had so much leftover duck “parts”, I decided to make a rich stock that would be used in the sugo.
We even used the duck skin and fat to make crispy, salty duck cracklings–which were surprisingly easy and a darn delicious way to celebrate every part of the duck.
We opted to use Mario Batali’s technique for the cracklings which was kind of a confit-render-fry method. I highly recommend it.
As always, we kicked off dinner with a cocktail. True, it wasn’t a duck themed cocktail but more of a nod to spring. I blended fresh mangoes, passion fruit, strawberries and fresh mint together to create a lovely tropical puree. I combined two parts of the fruit puree, 1 part vodka, 1/2 part coconut rum, 1/4 part fresh lemon juice and topped it all off with lemon sparkling water.
Bright, fresh, and packed a punch.
A duck punch.
To keep from getting h’angry, we noshed on baked artichoke-lump crab dib with toasted flat bread.
Didn’t you know that crabs were the ducks of the sea?
Just kidding… wait–am I?
And we also thought it may be a good idea to have some greens along with our meal. But our greens came in the form of —-
Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach….
Topped with Fresh Mozzarella….
With a shower of crispy Pancetta…
Studded with the freshly made Duck cracklings.
I mean C’MON guys…this salad was practically Vegan.
As I mentioned before, there was fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. Sure, Trader Joe’s sells a perfectly good, packaged dry pappardelle. But why do that when you can guilt your seester into making the pasta from scratch?
She actually used two recipes for the two batches. The first one from Food and Wine had a better flavor from the extra egg yolks. But we liked the texture better from the one we found here. It’s still a work in progress to find the best pappardelle recipe. Any suggestions?
We used the pappardelle noodles to soak up all the goodness from the rich duck sugo that was topped with a bright herb gremolata. I’ll be sharing the recipe for the sugo this Friday.
And finally, DESSERT!
We had a lemon-herb pound cake that was soaked in Grand Marnier. The cake was smothered with a whipped cream that had freshly made lemon curd folded into it. It was all then topped with a mound of sweet macerated strawberries.
Did you know the nickname for strawberries is duck-berries?
Is that too far of a stretch?
And that, dear Friends, is a wrap on our “beak to tail”,
all things most things Duck themed Family Dinner. I do promise to catch up on previous dinners as there is a lot of goodness to share!
And how adorable are our munchkins?
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Tropical Rum Punch
Appetizers: Baked Artichoke-Lump Crab Dib
Entrees: Caprese Salad with Crispy Pancetta and Duck Cracklings, Duck Sugo over Fresh Papparedelle
Dessert: Lemon-Herb Pound Cake with Macerated Strawberries and Whipped Cream