Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Rainyday Sunday Lunch

Last Sunday we had friends over for lunch and I thought I'd share what was on the menu. Inspired by a pumpkin and beetroot salad I had the night we dined at Smolt in Hobart, I did my own take on this, but with the addition of sliced crispy skinned duck breast. I had two Burrawong Gaian duck breasts in the freezer which I wanted to use - and this was just the right amount for a starter for four. If you find Burrawong duck or chicken for sale where you are, grab it. They are brilliant quality and are also the only producer of meat chickens and ducks in Australia to be certified as True Free Range by Humane Choice.

I roasted some fresh beetroot and pumpkin (in separate pans, or the beetroot will stain everything), added some roasted sweet onion, mixed salad leaves and thinly sliced duck breast, which was cooked gently, skin down in a pan to gently render the fat and crisp the skin. I then transferred the duck to a moderate oven for 10 minutes or so to finish cooking, and rested the meat thoroughly before slicing. A few months ago I bought a bottle of locally made blackberry vinegar when we were down in Canberra, so this was the basis for the dressing. I also added some fruity extra virgin olive oil, wild bush honey from Tasmania, garlic, a little salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne. The berry vinegar worked a treat with the rich duck meat. The salad was delicious served with freshly baked bread and good butter.

Using duck breast in a salad is a great way to serve duck if you are unsure about cooking this game meat. Cooking the whole bird can be a bit tricky - but mastering the duck breast is a whole lot easier. It also works out to be quite economical if you use it the way I did.  Two smallish duck breasts are more than enough to serve four adults as an entrĂ©e. Whatever you serve with it, a dressing or sauce with a bit of acidity works best with this, or any other game meat for that matter. It cuts through the richness and highlights the natural sweetness of the meat.

Duck, Pumpkin & Beetroot Salad 
With Blackberry Vinegar and Honey Dressing
It was cold and raining outside, so for the main course I went for ultra comfort food - pork belly, creamy mash and parmesan roasted zucchini and beans, served with a rich horseradish gravy. To cook the pork, I rubbed it with salt, fennel seed, some crushed native lemon myrtle and pepper berries and laid it on a bed of roughly chopped onion, celery, garlic and Granny Smith apples. Once the meat was cooked and resting on a plate, I used a spoon to smash up the now very soft apples and onions left in the pan to form what I decided to call "apple smash". Presto! Your own chunky apple sauce and you didn't have to do a thing.
Pork Belly -
Served with Parmesan Baked Zucchini, Green Beans, Garlic Mash,
Horseradish Gravy and "Apple Smash"

A roast is a really good low maintenance option when you are having lunch or dinner guests. I've yet to find a meat eater who doesn't love  a roast dinner and vegetarians are easily accommodated too, if you choose the best seasonal vegetables to roast. To make things a bit more interesting, I try to serve a sauce or accompaniment that is a little bit different - like doing polenta instead of potatoes, or tossing the roasted veges in a dressing and some fresh herbs to make a tasty vegetable salad. It's a good idea to check out the greengrocer and see what vegetables are in season where you are and base your menu around those. It's a great excuse to try a vegetable you haven't had before or maybe take an old favourite and serve it in a different way.

I didn't serve a dessert on this occasion, as I felt that the dishes were pretty substantial. It ended up being a good call, as we were all more than satisfied after the main course. I had enough leftover pork to use the next day for a super fast Monday night dinner. I chopped the pork up into smaller pieces and added it to rice, spring onions, peas, mushrooms and a quickly made chopped up omelette to make pork fried rice. Delicious and ready in 10 minutes. Gotta love leftovers!


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