Despite the hardy souls we see walking around in shorts (we mean you, Mr. UPS Man) and sandals, it’s still considered early spring here and evenings can be downright chilly. We find ourselves craving such warming foods as this duck confit, served up with a side of red cabbage braised with ginger and apples. Truth be told, though, this week-end meal was just an excuse to make a pile of potatoes pan-fried in duck fat.
We started with the red cabbage, and sautéed it with a chopped onion, a couple of apples, and some chunks of ginger. For a braising liquid, we used hard cider with a splash of tart cider vinegar and, for some balancing sweetness, apple molasses; maple syrup would serve just as well. We keep a stash of Popper’s duck confit on hand, and after searing it in a cast iron pan a crust formed, we set the legs aside and finished cooking the potatoes in the remaining duck fat. The secret to crunchy potatoes: Blanch the cut pieces briefly in unsalted water, drain until dry, and, if possible, let them cool down before finishing frying; the sugars and starches drawn to the surface through par-cooking work to form a crispy shell surrounding an almost souffléd texture within.
Local ingredients: Duck confit from Popper’s Artisanal Meats; red cabbage from Red Manse Farm; onion from Black Kettle Farm; canola oil from Coppal House Farm; hard cider from Nottingham Orchard; apples from Hackleboro Orchards; cider vinegar from Sewall’s Orchard; sea salt from Maine Sea Salt; homemade apple molasses, and the last of our storage potatoes from the garden. — Diary of a Tomato