Jesus, Chris, and the Silent T.
So the other day, I was thinking about this assignment. I found myself stalking the aisles of my local supermarket, determined to find something inspiring to eat.( Munchies are a real bitch).
Poetry and Pabulum, christ, what can I do?
There is one thing about this that I keep coming back to… Intellectual sustenance.
This spurs me on and I begin my shopping. As I was adding the goodies to my cart, I noticed a familiar face over near the large pile of strawberries. I quietly approach this person from behind and ask, in my most authoritative voice ” How do you plan on stealing those?” Startled, she turns around to confront me and sees the smile. ” Hi Genevieve,” I say through my shit eating grin. Genevieve dispenses with all the verbal niceties, and gives me a HUGE hug. “What are you doing here?” she asks, and I begin to explain just what is up…
After my jumbled explanation I determined I would submit my Poetry, although not what you may expect… Genevieve, upon hearing that she was a subject of my writings previously, DEMANDED a chance to speak to her adoring public (as she assumes they are). So we will see what she has to say a little later.
This is my poetry, this formula, the state of Zen I reach when performing these tasks. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
4 Whole Ducks Quartered, in addition to 4 leg quarters. Strip all the skin off the frame but leave intact on quarters, strip all the fat and reserve.
10 cloves garlic smashed
10 sprigs Thyme
Kosher salt 1/2 cup
tsp coarse black pepper
Toss all the ingredients together, lay in a hotel pan (or whattever it fits in one layer) on CLEAN towels. Place another pan on top and weight with a couple #10 cans or other heavy stuff… I usually put my Stock pans on them. Put it in the fridge and chill for 24 to 48 hrs.
Take all the reserved skin and fat and render it down to cracklings… remove the crackings… crush them up on your salad with chunks of blue cheese!
Rinse and pat dry the duck and put it in the grease, if you need to add more to cover use either bought duck fat, or Lard… I use lard… Duck grease and pig grease is yummy together. Pop it in a 200 degree oven and forget it exists for say 9 to 12 hours…Cool to room temp. Then fridge it.
There ya go … Duck Confit!
The grease will keep FOREVER… just keep adding cured duck parts to it and cooking like above…The grease makes the best fried potatoes and Carrots. By the way.
To serve a Cofit leg or breast, just pull it from the fat carefully, scrape the excess back into the crock. Put the meat Skin side down in a Medium hot Saute pan, until the skin is crisp. Splash it with some white wine and cover it for 30 seconds to steam it up and serve it on a Arugula salad, or with Creamy Polenta with sherried mushrooms.
Duck Confit Pot Pie.
4 leg quarters Confit… NO SKIN (save that and eat it for yourself chefs treat) Shredded.
1/2 cup small dice Carrot
1/3 Cup small dice Celariac
1 Cup Demi-glace (or decent beef stock, with red wine reduced and slightly thickened)
Salt & Pepper
1 recipe Pastry (pie dough)
I make mine in soup cups, or medium to large ramekins, in the 6 ounce range.
Its really very simple to build out, sautee your vegetables in a bit of Duck fat, seasoning as you go. Once they start to get little tender, add in your demi glace, and bring to a boil, simmer and let reduce by 20 percent. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded confit, reserving the delicious skin for whatever devious plan you wish. Once it is all cooled, divide evenly among serving dishes, top with a round of pastry, brush with egg yolk, and bake at 425 until the pastry is golden and crisp.
This is as close to perfect as I can imagine. For years I have made this dish, and for years have seen nothing but empty serving vessels return to my kitchen. I must say its a wonderful feeling, and its why this is my Poetry, having so much faith in a well worn, tried and true formula leads me to confidence, and a relaxed state of mind, knowing I CANNOT fail. Few things in life offer as much comfort.
So like I was saying before, I ran into that Deli-Inquent, Genevieve during my trip to the store. And she, being Genevieve, demanded a chance to spout off about something. So with that I turn over this post to her, I do appologize in advance. She can be rather crass…
So, Mikey confided in me about his latest writing assignment for this bad-ass website, and although I’m still a pup compared to all of you fine people (HA ha!) I was intrigued by this month’s theme and felt compelled to interpret it. Also, Mikey clearly hit a brick wall and desperately needed my help.
Sometimes I wish I had religious faith, but only so I can congregate.
Houses of worship are fascinating. Regardless of size, they always have a touch of shrine-like magnificence and the energy is thick and heavy. I remember going to church with my Roman Catholic grandparents every other weekend when I was growing up. Even after the lingering “Jesus is ALWAYS watching” guilt faded from my religious and Portuguese upbringing, I still enjoyed the meditative moments that seemed to happen in the massive, decorated church we all attended.
The front foyer of St. Martha and Mary’s church was a stuffy box with a low ceiling, a paltry preamble to introduce the somber magnificence inside. Inside this tiny hall, there was always a fellow congregant extending salutations and a smile, mostly towards my grandparents who by then had made their mark on the modest-sized parish by organizing and attending every event over the last few decades.
After the geriatric small talk, we’d leave the hall and enter the colossal belly of the cathedral. Walking down the center aisle was always a bit overwhelming at first. The energy would hit, like a dogmatic bitchslap, and I would already feel a bit out of place. I had rejected and abandoned a majority of the ideas and doctrines that had been pounded into my psyche as a child. That, combined with the fact that I happily frolicked in a world of sin made me feel like an imposter and a sell-out at the same time. It wasn’t until I slid into a smooth, creaky pew to relax, that I could really absorb the air around me. People have spent the best and the worst times of their lives here. They’ve pleaded in desperation, begged for mercy, surrendered their will and rejoiced with fervor. I would think about the situations in life that brought forth these heavy meditations and how I could truly relate. We all experience loss, sorrow, joy. There’s no escaping the human experience. We need to take care of each other. We are one.
By the time I was coming down from my deep existential whirlwind, the priest’s sermon was usually well underway. Many times I’d actively listen to the garbled speech and attempt to distill it down to something a bit more relatable to a non-believer (shun!) such as myself. Mostly, though, I’d let my eyes wander. Everywhere I looked, there was something interesting and beautiful to look at. Behind the altar, grand stained glass windows portrayed colorful angels with peaceful expressions, a departure from the tortured agony that I’ve always associated with religious décor. The woven tapestries that book-ended each of the three shrines beyond the pulpit were impossibly intricate, thick and heavy and I would fantasize of disrupting service just so I could run up and wrap myself in those elaborate textiles.
Within these shrines that were surrounded by the tapestries sat marble statues of the men and women we were supposed to worship. I don’t know if it was the azure of her robes or the fact that her rotten luck astounded me, but my gaze would rest on the statue of Mary for the longest amount of time. Her head was tilted to one side and her eyes were cast downward but her mouth was frozen in a tiny smile that would make the likes of Mona Lisa jealous. Her arms were extended out, a small offering of asylum, and I wanted nothing more than to feel her cool hands, press my warm cheek against her marble and stand with her, embraced, just to see what it would feel like. Just to see if it would feel like anything at all.
These creations, this art, was a huge reason why I never minded going back to church again and again. It was a quiet place where I could stare at lovely things and in turn, think. I didn’t pray, especially back then, but in this chamber of solace where it seemed that even our thoughts echoed, I found peace.