SKILLET’S Duck Tacos
This is another of our most popular items. The idea for this recipe came out of doing a lot of catering events where we had some leftover duck legs, and we felt like we could do something more interesting than make them into confit. I like the richness of the duck in the tacos-it’s saltier than pork and fattier than chicken. The preparation is really simple: we cure the legs overnight, which is basically adding salt and/or sugar to draw the excess water from the meat. Removing the water slows the bacterial growth and also gives the meat great flavor. Then we roast them until the meat falls off the bone. Once you’ve prepared the meat, the taco is a simple pleasure: fatty duck cut by sharp, clean flavors. Leave the skin on if you can-then you get the best part, the crispy bits. You’ll have plenty of salsa left over for chips or to use later.
4 Roasted Duck Legs (recipe follows)
8 white corn tortillas
1 cup Smoky Salsa (recipe follows)
4 sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish
1/4 cup minced white onion
Hot sauce (such as Tapatío or Cholula), optional
1. Pick the meat from the roasted duck legs and warm it gently in a large, lightly oiled pan over medium-low heat. Lightly char the tortillas over a gas flame, or warm them over low heat in a dry cast-iron skillet. Double up the tortillas, place about 1/2 cup of duck meat in the center of each, and top with a few teaspoons of salsa, a sprig of cilantro, and a few diced onions. Add a few drops of hot sauce if you like more kick.
Roasted Duck Legs
Makes 4 legs
4 cups loosely packed dark
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground
1 tablespoon ground
1 tablespoon freshly ground
4 duck legs
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper. In a roasting pan or other deep pan, cover the duck legs completely with a liberal amount of the cure mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. When you’re ready to roast the duck, preheat the oven to 330 degrees. Brush the cure off the legs, and place the legs on a baking sheet that has a little water in the bottom. Roast for about 11/2 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. Set aside to cool.
Makes 5 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
1 canned chipotle chile
2 cloves garlic
4 cups canned whole peeled
tomatoes, with juice, about 32 ounces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 white corn tortillas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 medium lime, first zested, then juiced
1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet.Cook the onion, chipotle, and garlic for about 5 minutes, until they are soft but not browned. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomatoes with their juices, sugar, salt, and pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Char the tortillas over a gas burner until there is very little white left, only about 20 percent. (Alternatively, toast them in a dry skillet, but don’t be afraid of a little smoke-you really want them blackened.) Add the whole charred tortillas to the tomato mixture and remove it from the heat. Add the cilantro and lime zest and juice, then purée the salsa and tortillas using an immersion blender. (A food processor or regular blender will work too.) Taste the seasonings and adjust if necessary.
I miss Skillet! When I’m back in Seattle I will go. Until then, least this will hold me over.