Between Media Camp and volunteering for Homeless Connect over Mother’s Day weekend, Mack and I didn’t have the time or energy to prepare a special meal for my Mum. So instead, we promised her supper the following Sunday – great timing not only because my parents were fresh from a short holiday to Vancouver, but also because it allowed us to finish up our ingredient shopping at the City Market.
Though I didn’t set out to cook a meal made up almost entirely of local ingredients, it ended up that way – being more conscious about where your food comes from tends to do that. On the menu: braised lentils with confit of duck (from Grainworks and Greens, Eggs and Ham); roasted root vegetables (from Kuhlmann’s, Sundog Organics, Greens, Eggs and Ham); and mixed heritage greens (from Greens, Eggs and Ham).
Knowing that the confit of duck would take the longest (the recipe indicated 45 minutes), we started with that. Of course, with Murphy’s Law, the entire dinner took about two hours to complete – I always seem to overestimate my adeptness in the kitchen.
The recipe is printed in The Food Lover’s Grail Guide to Alberta, by Mary Bailey & Judy Schultz, and is courtesy of Chef Kelly Strutt, who worked at the Deer Lodge at the time of the book’s printing. The instructions directed us to cover the duck legs with fresh thyme, rosemary and salt and refrigerate for 48 hours. To cook the duck legs, we rinsed off the salt and herbs, then simmered them in duck fat (also from Greens, Eggs and Ham) for thirty minutes. It was my first time cooking confit-style, and for whatever reason, I thought the fat would retain its solid consistency, but instead, it melted into a thin yellow oil.
In the meantime, we had prepped the carrots, parsnips and baby potatoes, tossed with some dried herbs, salt, pepper, honey and Mighty Trio Organics canola oil, and had put them into the oven. I also started on the braised red and green lentils, cooked with sautéed shallots and chicken stock.
To toss with the mixed heritage greens (our first bag of the year!), I whisked up my favourite vinaigrette – lemon juice, olive oil, grainy mustard (from The Bison in Banff), honey, salt and pepper.
The last task was the most difficult – to “flake” the duck meat from the bone. The recipe made it sound easier than it actually was – Mack and I fought tooth and nail to separate the meat from both skin and bone. I actually resorted to tearing with my fingers instead of using a knife and fork. In the end though, we were able to wrench a fair amount of meat from the pair of duck legs, and definitely enough to feed the six of us, with accompaniments.
Braised lentils and duck confit
I am happy to report that my mom enjoyed the meal. The duck meat was tender and flavourful, and though the lentils probably could have used another ten minutes on the stove, I didn’t mind that they still had a little bite to them.
Plated with roasted vegetables and mixed heritage greens
For dessert, we purchased the show stopping Duchess from the eponymous bakery. I’d been looking for an excuse to try it, and a meal for my Mum seemed like the perfect occasion.
Chiffon cake layered with pastry cream and raspberry, then topped with a dome of vanilla bean whipped cream and encased in a marzipan shell, it is no doubt a dessert made with skill and care. My favourite part was the light and airy chiffon and the delicate raspberry filling.
Inside the Duchess
Family and good food – what more could you ask for?