To many people, it may feel like summer is nearly over; there are only 3 weeks until September. Here in upstate NY our summer crops are just beginning to come to market. While we are enjoying the bounties of the current harvests, as chefs, we must also be looking forward to the next season. When beans and peas come in (green, sugar snap, snow, pole, haricot verte, etc) there are bushels of them and every farm has them for sale. But it won’t be long before the season for them is over and they cannot be found. That is why we pickle, brine, freeze, ferment and otherwise preserve many summer foods so that we can enjoy them in different forms throughout the fall and winter season.
A great example of curing meat for the next season is duck confit. This year I am fortunate to have a local farm (M&M Eggs) raising a flock of ducks for us. They are heritage breed ducks that have a deep and robust flavor. They are also quite a bit larger than farm raised ducks. As most of my regular guests know, I am a huge fan of charcuterie (cured meats). So I will prepare many of them into duck confit. Confit is a process for preserving the meat for use over long periods. Normally, only the legs are cured, but I cure the whole duck. (The wings are a real treat that I enjoy saving for myself and our staff.) It begins by rubbing the duck down with a mixture of salt and a proprietary blend of herbs and spices and curing the meat to remove the excess moisture. Then the meat is rinsed and slow cooked fully submerged in duck fat until the meat is tender and easily pulls from the bone. The duck is then cooled and preserved in the fat. We will be using the confit as a filling for our Duck Ravioli as well as a component on our Autumn Charcuterie Board on the fall menu.
I hope you are able to get to your local farmers market and take advantage of the wonderful variety of fresh food. While you are there, think about what you can do to preserve some of the bounty for your home table in the next season. If you are too busy…..don’t worry, we have your back! We look forward to seeing you soon.
Bon Appetite! Chef Brian