We found ourselves back at Foodish Cooking School, I knew we’d be back……it was too good not to get back there!
Once again we were greeted with a smile, a glass of wine and an apron. Elaine and her team (although a slightly different team this class) were most hospitable and we again learnt loads. This time we were back for a Christmas Duck class which was delightful.
One of the most useful things I learnt in the class was an added bonus that I hadn’t expected. We learnt to butcher a bird as well as cook it. I learnt how to hold the knife to get the most out of the cut I was preparing, how to break the leg joint to find the best place to cut through it and separate it from the rest of the bird and how to remove the wings and the fat for later use.
It was a great lesson in the way the duck flesh is built and how to break it down. Frankie, one of Elaine’s team members, also gave me some great tips on how to butcher all types of birds, in a conversation as we were taking the breast meat off the duck.
We also learnt how to render the fat on the duck breast, make duck fat for later use and make some delicious sweet potato Christmas mash and a cherry jus.
We even utilized some of the season’s fruit in a sweet duck leg cooked with nectarines and star anise, that we took home to cook another night with our families. Zip lock bags are your friend when marinating and also carrying your spoils home from a cooking class!
After we had butchered the duck in the beginning of the lesson and gotten ourselves the various parts of the duck to prepare in various ways. We had put aside the duck fat to boil with some water (so it didn’t stick to the pan) to prepare some duck fat for each attendee to take home and use at a latter stage. We were also given some tips for storage of the duck fat so it would last as long as possible.
Elaine’s Christmas mash was so simple it was crazy, yet so incredibly delicious and a great partner to the duck. The Cherry jus we made matched the duck beautifully and Elaine showed us when to add the port and how to ensure a balance of flavours allowing us to get the best out of the seasonal produce we had.
Once our duck breast’s skin was crispy we baked the breast till it was ready, then learnt how to slice the duck breast so that it would present best on the plate. We could present the elements however we liked on the plate and present it with some asparagus, the Christmas mash and garnished with the cherry jus. We then had the privilege of dining altogether and consuming our creations with a delicious glass of pinot to match.
A fabulous way to welcome in the festive season.