Recently I entered the Gold Medal Plates cooking competition here in Vancouver. The annual event, which I've competed in before, raises money for Canada's Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
This year, I wanted to prepare a dish that was different, yet simple. I came up with a pairing comprised of a chicken boudin made of a pressé of confit chicken legs, and confit duck legs with a parsnip purée, truffle vinaigrette and carmelized onion foam.
The entry was liked by all - it won first place. But it's hard to go wrong with a classic French dish such as duck confit. It's basically duck legs marinated with salt and herbs, then cooked slow for several hours in duck fat. By today's standards, it's a meal we should try to avoid. But a classic is a classic - and it's absolutely delicious. So I added a twist to the dish, using free-range chicken legs along with the duck.
Confit is one of the ways people preserved meat before refrigeration. The benefit: Once the duck and chicken are cooked and cooled down, they can remain in your fridge for up to a few weeks. You can use the meat in many ways, such as shredded into a pasta, on a salad or in a cassoulet.
Now, you might be thinking: How on earth can I prepare an award-winning entree? Let me assure you that the recipe I share with you today is meant to be simple, keeping in mind you're looking for new ideas as well as new things to cook.
So here it is: a home chef's version of the winning dish.
Duck and Chicken Confit, Parsnip Purée with Reduced Balsamic Glaze
4 chicken legs
4 duck legs
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves, crushed
4 garlic cloves, crushed
5 or 6 sprigs of thyme
2 cups duck fat
4 medium parsnips
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups mixed greens
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
Place the duck and chicken legs in a casserole dish, add salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Gently rub mixture into legs. Marinate for 8 to 10 hours. Preheat oven to 475 F. Melt fat over medium heat, pour over duck and chicken. Cover with foil, place in the oven and cook for 21/2 to 31/2 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone. When done, let cool.
For the parsnip purée, peel and dice the parsnip, place in large pot with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. After 10 to 12 minutes, check to see if fork-tender. Once ready, place in a blender, add cream and butter and season with salt and pepper. Place back on stove on low heat. Meanwhile, bring the 1/2 cup of balsamic to a boil, and reduce by half. To plate, place 2 tablespoons of puree on the centre of the plate. Gently take one duck leg and one chicken leg from the fat, remove skin and bone. Place on top of the puree and drizzle with balsamic. Toss greens with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on top of duck and chicken. Serves 4.
Rob Feenie will go on to compete in the Canadian Culinary Championships Nov. 27-28 in Vancouver.