If you know anything about Portland, you know it has killer cuisine from all walks of life. From food trucks to brick-and-mortar joints (also known as restaurants), this city is crazy about cuisine. Award-winning food writer and recipe developer Danielle Centoni has a new book of recipes from Stumptown that will rejuvenate your culinary repertoire and inspire you to book a flight ASAP. This Vietnamese duck curry from Departure is a sumptuous treat.
Departure chef Gregory Gourdet uses all parts of the duck in this incredibly rich and flavorful curry, but to make it more accessible for home cooks, this version uses store-bought stock and confit. Can’t find the confit? Don’t fret. The sauce is so delicious, you can serve it with just about anything, even tofu. Just be sure to serve it with enough crusty bread or steamed rice to soak it all up.
Notes: Some specialty and gourmet grocers carry duck breasts and duck leg confit in the butcher department or deli or freezer section. Look for duck stock in the freezer section, too, or check the soup aisle for More Than Gourmet brand duck and chicken stock base (also available through online retailers). You can also special-order the meats from your butcher. In Oregon, any retailer that works with Nicky USA can source the duck breast and duck leg confit for you.
Cutting taro can make your hands itch. If your skin is sensitive, wear gloves.
- 10 small cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 stalks lemongrass, pounded and very thinly sliced
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 Fresno chile pepper or jalapeño pepper
- 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (divided)
- 3 13 1/2 ounce cans coconut milk
- 5 cups duck stock (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as Red Boat)
- 1 medium taro root (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 duck breasts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 confit duck legs (see Note)
- 24 fresh Thai basil leaves, plus more to garnish
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- Artisan bread or steamed rice, to serve
For the curry
In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, lemongrass, onions, chile, ginger, curry paste, salt and peppercorns. Blend or process until very smooth.
Heat the oil in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add the curry mixture and cook 10 minutes, or until the color darkens and flavors deepen. Stir in the coconut milk and duck stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 1 hour, or until reduced by half. Season with sugar and fish sauce.
For the assembly
Preheat oven to 425°F. Peel the taro root and cut into medium dice. (You should have 3 cups.) Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and roast for 15 minutes, or until tender.
Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breast diagonally in both directions to create a diamond pattern (don’t cut the flesh). Season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and sear until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes (meat won’t be fully cooked). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Slice 1/4 inch thick. (Refrigerate or freeze the flavorful duck fat for another use, like roasting potatoes or vegetables.)
Add the duck leg confit and taro root to the curry and simmer until warmed through. Add the duck breast and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the meat is medium-rare.
To serve, fold in the Thai basil. Divide the duck between four bowls and cover with curry sauce. Garnish with sliced scallions and Thai basil and serve with warm bread or steamed rice.