Monday, November 3, 2008

Duck in Kriek

I've always claimed that there are very few original inventions in cooking and anyone who claims to have invented a dish is probably fooling himself. I know that the vast majority of times that I have a novel idea, I can go out on the internet and find that someone has already had that same idea. Here's a case in point.

A customer sent me an email recently stating that he had a bunch of kriek in his basement, asking if I had ever cooked with it and what he might do with it. I answered that I had used it various ways over the years, mostly in desserts. Kriek-macerated fresh fruit is wonderful and kriek makes a great sabayon. I also answered that right now, I feel like braising duck in it with dried sour cherries, shallots, and thyme.

Let me digress to say that kriek is a Belgian beer spontaneously fermented with naturally occuring yeasts. After the primary fermentation, sour cherries are added, causing a secondary fermentation. The beer is dry, a touch sour from the wheat added to the barley and from the native yeasts, and it picks up color, flavor, and aroma from the cherries.

The dish I was seeing in my mind was kriek-braised Moulard duck legs with grilled Moulard duck breast, bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and a sauce of the reduced braising liquid augmented with demiglace. Unfortunately, our sprouts are about three weeks away from being ready. I did find some celery root in the market, but not a vast quantity, so I thought I would purée it and stretch it with potatoes.

After I had featured the dish on the menu this past weekend, I got curious. I've never braised duck in kriek before nor ever encountered it, but I couldn't imagine that I am the first to have ever done it, so just for giggles I typed "duck kriek" into the Google oracle to see just how often it had been done before.

The second hit was from a beer dinner in San Francisco that featured:

Duck Braised in Hansens Kriek

Slowly cooked Duck Legs With Shallots, Thyme, Dried Montmorency Cherries

topped with a Duck Kriek Demi-Glace on a Bed of Celery Root Potato Puree

with Milk Poached White Asparagus

This is identical to what I thought of, less the asparagus.

So to the chef who a few years ago took the trouble to call me to let me know that I had ripped off one of his dishes, I say get over yourself friend. I'm willing to bet that hundreds of people did it before you.

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