This canapé is delicious and just a little fancy - perfect for a New Year's Eve party. It's also a good way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you might have from Christmas dinner. Duck and cranberries go so well together, and I put some tangerine in my cranberry sauce, which make it perfect dressing for duck rillette.
Rillette is a classic French preparation that is made from braised or confit meat, mixed with fat. The most common varieties are made with pork or duck. You can mix in any herbs and spices you want, but I like to keep this simple by adding some Dijon mustard. Rillette should be served at room temperature. Straight out of the fridge it will be hard, making it difficult to spread. Once it warms up, the fat will start to soften and the flavours and aromas will really start to come out. Perfectly tempered rillette will have a moist, melting texture.
I'll be posting a couple more easy-make ideas for New Year's Eve party treats in the next few days, but I must warn you that this recipe is a bit tricky. It takes a bit of planning to put together because the duck has to be cooked ahead of time and then allowed to chill overnight to give the fat time to set. Although it is a slow process, there is not much actual work involved. The duck takes a long time to cook, but only minutes to prepare.
One way to save yourself a bit of time is to buy pre-cooked confit duck legs. All you will have to do is warm the legs so that they are soft enough to work with, shred the meat and mix in the mustard and fat. The advantage to starting with raw legs is that they will give off far more fat than confit legs, making for a richer rillette. Also, raw duck legs are usually less expensive. Some grocery stores might only have the pre-cooked variety anyway, so don't worry too much if that's what you use. The guests at your New Year's Eve party will still be impressed with how sophisticated your cranberry duck hors d'oeuvre are.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours plus 12 hours to chill
Makes about 15 bites
2 duck legs
1 small onion
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon juniper berries
salt & pepper
2 tbs dijion
1 cup tangerine cranberry sauce
toast or crackers for serving
Preheat the oven to 300F
1. Quarter the onion and cut the head of garlic in half across the middle and place in a large pot or Dutch oven along with the duck legs and juniper berries. Add enough water to cover the legs half way. Cover with a lid or tin foil and place in the oven at 300F for 2 1/2 hours. When the meat separates easily from the bone, they are done.
2. Allow to cool on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes and then transfer to the fridge. The legs can be chilled in the same pot that you cooked them. If you transfer the legs to another container, make sure that you pour the broth & fat back over the legs so that the meat is covered as it chills to prevent drying. Chill overnight.
3. The next day, take the legs out of the fat. Put 3/4 cup of fat aside and allow it to come to room temperature.
4. Take the meat off the duck legs and shred it. Stir in the reserved duck fat and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard. The mix should have the consistency of chicken salad.
5. Add 1 tablespoon of duck mixture onto each cracker or toast and top with 1 teaspoon of tangerine cranberry sauce. Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated to up to 2 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Derek Bocking is a professional chef with over 15 years culinary experience. On his blog, Derek's Kitchen, he shares restaurant-style recipes for amateur gourmets to try at home, from quick and easy meals to more elaborate showstoppers.
by Derek Bocking