Chris Cooks!

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March 26, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

Saturday was my day off. No grocery shopping. No cleaning. No cooking. No baking. Just me relaxing, reading, writing, drinking good wine, and watching a shit ton of basketball. (You’ll have to forgive my language but I don’t really know how else to describe a minimum of 4 games a day for 4 days.) All this while my husband cooked me an amazing three course meal: snacks while we watched the NCAA tournament, then an incredible gourmet dinner, and (shop-bought but I’m not judging) dessert to boot!

Chris followed this duck recipe from BBC’s Good Food, but I helped him create an amazing pan sauce for the dish. Don’t worry, he did every bit of hands on work! I didn’t lift a finger. Well except to raise my wine glass, of course.

He cooked the duck perfectly, crisp on the outside and medium through. Then used the same pan to make these duck fat potatoes, garlicky and crisp.

Garlicky Duck Fat Potatoes

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here he is, sleeves rolled up and hard at work…

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Seriously though, Chris did what I would recommend anyone who is new(ish) in the kitchen should do. Read through a recipe a few times to familiarize yourself with what you are about to get into. Then prep everything you can in advance. If you’ve never chopped herbs or cut up bacon (that one was surprisingly annoying for Chris) you don’t know how long it might take. Following these tricks, everything came together perfectly! Duck fat potatoes, what?! Yes indeed-y.

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Grease started flying so Chris aproned-up, and I think his little helper might have thought she was going to get lucky with some scraps, don’t you?

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After braising cabbage with bacon, I gave Chris some tips on perfecting a balsamic pan sauce.

Bacon Braised Cabbage

The keys to a quick pan sauces:

  • you want an equal amount of fat and flour, so if the meat you were cooking left a lot behind, pour off all but 1 Tbs and if there isn’t enough, add some extra butter or oil. Then sprinkle in about 1 Tbs. of flour and whisk for 1 minute.
  • Next you want to deglaze the pan, picking up all the brown bits left on the bottom, so this is when you add your acid: wine, vinegar, or citrus juice. In a pinch, broth or water will work but it’s missing out on an extra layer of flavor.
  • Whisk, whisk, whisk. Continue stirring while you add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of broth, depending on how thick you want your sauce or how much of it you want!
  • Simmer and stir until it is saucy and ready to serve.

…And, voila! Dinner was served!! As Chris took his first bites, it was honestly so wonderful to see the smile it put on his face. I didn’t screw anything up!?! And trust me, he definitely did not. It was awesome! I was so impressed and happy that I’ve inspired him to try to cook more often. Am I lucky or what?!?

Secrets to a Simple Pan Sauce: A Broad Cooking

Simple Pan Sauce

Yields about 1 cup

1 Tbs. fat (either rendered from meat or butter/oil)

Chopped shallots, garlic, or herbs (optional)

1 Tbs. flour

Acid of choice: either 1/4 cup of wine or 2 Tbs. vinegar or lemon juice

1 cup chicken broth

In the same skillet used to brown your meat, over medium heat, add shallots or garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour evenly into the fat and whisk for an additional minute.

Deglaze the pan with chosen acid and whisk continually for 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Continue whisking as you add your broth, mixing well. Cook for 3-5 minutes until thick and slightly reduced.

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