I watched Hank and Sean pull out their hair tryng to keep up with the endless duck orders. It’s restaurant week, we’re a French restaurant, and we serve braised duck. It’s going to get a lot of hits. And jumping on this dish for the first time made me nervous. Fortunately, Ronny was here. Unfortunately, he looked like he was going to yack and had a stiff neck. So I handed him a bunch of apples to cocotte. We need about 60 for service. That’s just one component to this very French (read: complex) dish.
The rest of the dish revolves around rendering duck legs and then putting them in a braising liquid. While your legs are rendering, you work on browning the duck carcass and vegetables for the braise. You add in reduced wine (which takes about 40 minutes to reduce) and then when your legs are fat-free (ha!) and crispy, you put them in the braising pot, cover with duck stock (something else you need to make) and let it cook until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Now you can start working on everything else needed for the dish: glacer a blanc carrots (basically steamed carrots with butter and sugar), braised endives, apple cocottes cooked in caramel and a seared breast loined prepped for service. So basically, I was really happy Ron showed up today. We were still cookng when the expediter started to call out canapes, so things got a little hectic to try to finish our missing pieces. But by 12:30 we were ready. And when orders for duck started to come in, team Ronara really showed what we were made of.
We had a plan. I started on the line–searing the breast when they were ordered, popping in the vegetables to warm up, and dropping the duck legs in braising solution to reheat. When the order was “fired” I passed off half a breast to Ron to cut. I then pop the breast back in the oven to reheat, while he handled grabbing the plates and started to plate the vegetables. We never had a late plate. And everything looked really beautiful. I’m really proud of Ron for pulling through and not vomiting during service. Way to go, Ronara.
TIP OF THE DAY: Want to give your vegetables nice color? Add sugar to a hot pan and let it caramelize. Then put down your vegetables and they will pick up that brown, caramelized color. Add liquid (stock or water) once nicely browned and cook until tender.