Chinese Scallion Pancakes with Yummy Duck

130608_0952

I cannot keep secret my general dislike of chicken. I cook with it on occasion, but more as a filler protein than the main component of my meal. I know that generally chicken is pretty good for you as far as animal protein is concerned. But the flavor is so bland and specific to me, and the product overused.

Thus, I find myself constantly in search of chicken substitutes. This is how I became engrossed in learning how to prepare duck. Unlike chicken, duck strikes me as having a very complex flavor. While chicken is great at yielding to spices in curries and sauces, highlighting the cultural flavors, duck asks to be complimented. It doesn’t always yield – but it certainly rises to the challenge.

I enjoy a challenge, especially when pairing flavors. It’s also nice to be able to offer an alternative to pork and beef in a recipe.

This recipe is really a whole meal. The beauty is that this meal can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. I personally love the feeling when everything in my meal was coaxed together with my own two hands. Sometimes that’s far too much work, however.

The duck is the key to this meal. I got mine from Kellie Brook Farm after an awesome reader pointed me in their direction. Tim and Kellie Rocha are wonderful farmers, and when I told Kellie I’d be writing about cooking her duck, she jokingly insisted I let everyone know “His name was Quack.”

One of the many reasons I like being able to talk to my farmer.

130608_0893

If you don’t want to put all the effort into making a sauce, and the cute little Chinese scallion pancakes, I know you can buy both at most major grocery stores. The pancakes are usually in the frozen section and heat up quite nicely. Plum sauce or duck sauce can be found in the international food aisle.

I’m a bread baking junkie – it totally focuses me and mellows me out. So I love making doughs from scratch. Not everyone is this nutty.

130608_0927 130608_0929

But, individually, none of these recipes are too hard – I just want to recognize that they can be a lot all at once.

Duck Sandwiches in Little Chinese Scallion Pancakes

130608_0886

The Duck

  • 3 – 5 lb Duck
  • Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Tablespoon Cloves
  • Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • Tablespoon Ginger
  • Tablespoon Fennel
  • Salt
  • 1 Ginger Root

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix all the spices together. Rub the entire duck inside and out, first with salt and then with the spice mix. Cut off an end of the ginger and rub it on the duck. Roughly chop the ginger and stuff the duck with it.

Place the duck on a roasting pan. Insert in the oven for an 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the duck. Check on it throughout, pricking the skin a few times to let out excess fat. You want to internal temperature to be around 160. For the last 15 minutes crank the temperature up to 400 to get the skin nice and crispy.

Remove the duck from the oven. Once it has cooled enough use two forks to pick the meat off the bones. I like to mix the skin in with the meat. Depending on how many people you’re feeding you can either pick off all the meat and discard the carcass, or just pick half of the meat and freeze the rest to make soup later on. I’ll be doing the latter!

Set aside the meat in a nice serving dish.

The Sauce

  • A nice handmade jam – I used peach raspberry for this particular recipe
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Dollop a four or five generous spoonfuls of jam into a small saucepan. Add the soy sauce and the chili powder. Mix it all up and set over a medium heat. Let it get nice and bubbly before bring down the temperature to low. Let it reduce until you have a nice thick sauce – which might not be long depending on the type of jam you use. Make sure to taste it and make any adjustments! Your sauce should be a little bit salty, but primarily nice and sweet with a chili kick.

130608_0951

    The Scallion Pancakes

I love these pancakes. I got the recipe for them at Serious Eats, whom I think does a really good job showing how to make them. I swapped out about a cup of whole wheat bread flour for part of the white flour to give them a little more substance.  Also, when I went to fry them, I brushed each side with a little of the duck fat from the roasting pan that I had just pulled out of the oven. Delicious!

Scallions are abundant right now, so get them from your local farmer! New garlic would also be a totally awesome substitute.

130608_0920

Once you’ve made everything the pancakes are easy to construct. I like putting a little bit of veg such as pea shoots, radish shoots, or bean sprouts. They’re perfect finger food, and very filling!

130608_0964

 

asian hot and sour rhubarb pork with new garlic

130530_0823

Though what I really wanted to do was make something asian inspired featuring duck and rhubarb, and new garlic, duck is still quite hard to come by this time of year. So is chicken. All of the chicks and ducklings have gotten bigger and been put out to pasture, but few of them are ready for slaughter yet. So it goes.

Pork, however, has been easy to source. Just about every farmer who I know sells meat has a fair amount of pork to choose from. I ran into Bob Barth from Birch Hill Farm in Lee recently who advised me “Everyone needs a boar.” I suppose I wouldn’t know, but I’m going to eat local pork all the same.

This is an interesting time for pigs. A large chinese company has just started the huge purchase of Smithfield Foods, America’s largest pork producer. The chinese are finding they can’t raise enough pork to meet demand in their country, and also the economy is raising enough that the Chinese are interested in “high-quality” American Meat.

On top of this purchase, grain prices are skyrocketing. A common misconception that consumers have is all livestock thrive on grass. This isn’t the case. Cows do, and it’s better for their meat if they’re feed a grass heavy diet. Pigs on the other hand can’t digest that much grass. They need grain and other supplementary food to be healthy. Mainstream pork producers aren’t going to be able to keep the prices of factory farmed pork down in the modern agricultural climate.

However, this doesn’t change things for local farmers all that much. They’ve always had prices that are an honest reflection of what it takes to raise and slaughter and animal. Pork is one of the few meats that you can actually truly taste a difference in quality of life of the animal. A happy pig is a yummy pig. Small local farmers for the most part can be trusted to raise happy pigs.

I get different pork products from different farmers. I’m especially partial to pork chops from New Roots Farm. I like Hurd Farm’s ribs. But I always migrate back to Kellie Brook Farm when I want to work with a really interesting piece of meat. Tim Rocha is very knowledgable when it comes to is product. I can tell him what I’m cooking and he can tell me what cut of meat to use. So far, he hasn’t led me astray.

For this dish, he told me to use Pork Steak.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with pork steak. You’d be hard pressed to find it in a grocery store. Like most cuts of pork that aren’t incredibly mainstream, it usually just gets ground up with the odds and ends, which is a shame because its a lovely cut of meat. It is tough, so you’ll either want to slice it thin like I do for this recipe, or pound it out… but its terribly yummy and quite lean as far as pork is concerned.

Hot and Sour Rhubarb Pork – Serves 4

Ingredients

  •  1 – 2 lbs Pork Steak, or other comparable meat. Be brave and talk to your farmer about what meat would work best! (Kellie Brook Farm, Hurd Farm)

(for marinade)

  • 14 oz Rhubarb (Live Free Farm, Willow Pond Farm)
  • 4 Tablespoons Raw Honey
  • 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 stalk of New Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel
  • Hunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 Dried Chile, seeded

(for salad)

  • 14 oz Brown Rice Noodles, or Plain Brown Rice
  • 4 Green Onion, nicely sliced up (Stout Oak Farm)
  • 1/2 lb of mixed Sprouts and Herbs – cilantro, basil, mico-greens, pea shoots, etc (Live Free Farm, Meadows Mirth Farm, Stout Oak Farm)
  • 1/4 lb of Baby Bok Choi, or Tat Soi (Live Free Farm)
  • 2 Limes

130530_0828

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the pork steak up very thin, about a half of an inch. You may even want to only thaw it 3/4 of the way, if you buy it frozen. This makes the slicing easy. Put aside in a casserole dish.

Put all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor. Pulse until you have a chunky sauce, and pour that sauce over the pork. Add about a cup of water and mix everything around so that the pork is nicely covered. Pop the pork into the oven for about an hour and a half. You’ll notice that any edges sticking out of the pan will start to get pink and crunchy. About midway through put on your brown rice, if that’s your starch of choice.

Remove the dish from the oven and pick the pork out of the rhubarb with a pair of tongs. You’ll be left with a nice tangy thickened sauce. Spoon the sauce into a serving dish for later.

Drizzle some vegetable oil in a wok and get it nice and hot. Throw the pork on and let it sizzle until the pork gets nice and crispy. If you’re opting to serve the pork with noodles, this is a good time to put them in the boiling water and swirl them around until they’re tender.

130530_0834

Put the noodles and pork in their respective serving dishes, out with the rhubarb sauce, cut up limes, and a salad made of the sprouts and cresses. Build your own plate! I usually start with the noodles or the rice, pile the salad on top, and finish it with the pork, sauce and lime… but mix it up as you wish!

130530_0866

.010 – Rhubarb and Pork Chops

130513_0424

Rhubarb has been a constant source of wonder for me ever since I was a child. I was born in Berkeley, CA, and I remember my parents had huge rhubarb stalks that grew up behind the house. I asked about them a lot – what they were, what they tasted like, how you cooked them….

Read More »