Gastronomixs

Wild duck, elderberries, and white onions

This month's guest chef is Christian F. Puglisi from Relæ in Copenhagen, a Dane of Sicilian-Norwegian origin. After working at Noma for two years, Christian decided to start up his own restaurant. He wanted to create something new, something that differed from all the fine dining restaurants and endless tasting menus. He wants guests to feel welcome and relaxed at his restaurant, with everything revolving around food. However, Christian prefers a no frills approach. He developed a four-course menu with vegetables taking on a starring role. His restaurant plays an important role in New Nordic Cuisine, which focuses on the use of pure, fresh, seasonal ingredients.

This dish was created by fusing two other dishes. Actually, it was two vegetarian dishes (steamed spring onions with elderberries, and roasted spring onions with charred onion purée) crossed with a roasted meat to form a main course. Eventually, it turned into a dish that mixes old and new techniques: roasting wild duck in a classic way while using more modern and innovative techniques to cook vegetables.

Christian says it was great to realise that for once no vacuum bag or immersion circulator could compete with straight-up, old-school pan roasting. Duck is all about the flavour and texture of the roasted and slightly crispy fat juxtaposed with the cooked-rare, tender meat, and direct high heat is the only way to make it happen.

Pairing up game with a bit of fruit and sweetness is always a safe way to go, and cooking onions seemed like a clear way to get that sweetness. The elderberries that go into the duck-based sauce give a tannic bitterness and acidity. The grilled onion purée works as a binding element, connecting all the other components with its balance between sweet and bitter.

Creation by Christian F. Puglisi, Relæ restaurant*, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Serves 6.

Wild duck, elderberries, and white onions

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Ingredients

1

kg

yellow onions, peeled and halved

 

 

reduced white wine

 

 

mushroom soy sauce

 

 

fine-grain salt

2

 

wild grey ducks

 

 

vegetable oil

 

 

sea salt

45

g

duck glaze

45

g

chicken glaze

60

ripe

elderberries

 

 

reduced white wine

2

 

yellow onions, sliced into 5mm-thick rounds

3

 

large onions, peeled

1

kg

salt brine (3%)

3

kg

butter emulsion

 

 

duck fat

 

 

fine-grain salt

Preparation method: wild duck breast
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Detach the legs and cut off the backbone (to roast for sauce).
  • Remove the wishbone from the breasts to facilitate carving.
  • Sear the skin side of the ducks until golden brown and crispy, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Put the ducks directly on the oven racks (setting a tray underneath to catch the drippings) and bake until the thickest part of the duck, next to the breastbone, reaches 52°C, 8 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the ducks from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Butcher the breasts off the bone and cut the meat lengthwise into 4mm slices.
  • Season with salt.
Preparation method: duck sauce with elderberries
  • Combine the duck glaze and the chicken glaze in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until combined, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the ripe elderberries and season with reduced white wine.
Preparation method: onion noodles
  • Slice the onions on a Japanese-style turning slicer, making the longest strips possible.
  • Place the onions and salt brine in a vacuum bag and seal.
  • Refrigerate overnight, then drain the onions in a colander, discarding the brine.
  • Boil the butter emulsion over medium-high heat, then add the onions and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Using a sieve set over another saucepan, drain the onions, reserving the butter emulsion for another use.
  • Season the onions with a drizzle of duck fat and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Shape the onions into six tight bundles and sprinkle with burnt onion powder.
Preparation method: grilled onion purée
  • Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 300°C.
  • Grill the onions until charred, 15 to 20 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes.
  • Remove some of the extremely burnt pieces so it is not too bitter.
  • Vacuum-seal the onions in a single layer in vacuum bags and boil in a saucepan of water until completely soft, approximately 45 minutes.
  • Transfer the onions and their juices to the Thermomix with enough water to make a thick purée and let it reach 80°C.
  • Press the purée through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and season with reduced white wine, mushroom soy sauce, and salt.
Preparation method: burnt onion powder
  • Preheat the oven to 300°C.
  • Place the onion rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until burnt and completely dried, approximately 1 hour.
  • Allow the onions to cool.
  • Transfer the onions to a Thermomix and process into a fine powder.
  • Sift through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl.
Finishing & preparation
  • Place a spoonful of the warmed grilled onion purée on a plate.
  • Layer four or five slices of wild duck breast on top.
  • Place one bundle of onion noodles at the top right of the wild duck breast.
  • Pour two or three spoonfuls of duck sauce with elderberries over the duck.

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