FOIE GRAS and SWEET ONION BREAD PUDDING with PECAN-CRUSTED DUCK LEG CONFIT, WILTED SPINACH, and ANDOUILLE SALAD

FOIE GRAS and SWEET ONION BREAD PUDDING with PECAN-CRUSTED DUCK LEG CONFIT, WILTED SPINACH, and ANDOUILLE SALAD by Emeril Lagasse

(excerpted from "Foie Gras...A Passion" by Hudson Valley founder, Michael Ginor)

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With its roots in French, Spanish, and African cooking, the cuisine of New Orleans is known for hearty dishes with robust flavors. One of the genre's most renowned practitioners is Emeril Lagasse, who, for this preparation, blends Cajun and Creole classics with French ingredients and techniques. Although bread pudding is usually served as a dessert, Emeril's savory version incorporates foie gras, which, as it melts, enriches the custard. The result is a comforting, stuffing-like pudding that is a perfect accompaniment to the pecan-crusted duck leg confit.

YIELD: 10 MAIN COURSE SERVINGS

DUCK CONFIT - Purchase Duck Confit Online
10 duck legs
1 and 1/2 cups coarse salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1bunch fresh thyme
8 juniper berries
2 to 3 quarts rendered duck fat

Rinse the duck legs under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the salt, peppercorns, thyme, and juniper. Holding 1 duck leg at a time over the bowl of salt, rub a generous amount of the salt and seasonings into the skin and flesh of the leg. Place in a half hotel pan or other nonreactive dish and repeat with the remaining legs. The salted legs can be layered 2 or 3 deep. All of the salt should be used. Any that is left over can be sprinkled on top. Refrigerate overnight. The following day, brush away any salt and spices from the duck legs and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the rendered fat in a heavy 6- or 8-quart saucepan over medium heat to between 220 and 230 degrees. Add the duck legs, making sure they are submerged in the fat, and cook until browned and tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. When the legs are nearly cooked, the meat will pull away from the leg bone. Remove from the heat and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer the legs to a ceramic bowl, crock, or other nonreactive container. If not using immediately, strain the fat on top to cover. The confit will keep up to one year in the refrigerator. To use confit that has been stored in the refrigerator, gently heat the bowl in a pot of simmering water to melt the hardened fat.

BREAD PUDDING - Purchase Fresh Foie Gras Online
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound foie gras, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups sliced onions
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
7 large eggs
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8 cups cubed white bread, without crusts
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart rectangular glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Heat a large saute pan over moderately high heat and sear the foie gras cubes in several batches, about 30 seconds per batch, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Remove the cubes and drain them on a paper towel, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the remaining butter to the pan and saute the onions until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne pepper, and all the black pepper. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Remove this mixture from the head and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream, the remaining salt and cayenne pepper, the Tabasco sauce, and the Worcestershire sauce. Whisk this mixture until all ingredients are well blended. Stir in the onion mixture. Add the bread cubes and mix well. Fold in the seared foie gras. Pour the mixture into the buttered pan and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. If the top begins to brown, cover with aluminum foil. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

PECAN-CRUSTED DUCK CONFIT
2 and 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted (see Chef Notes)
3 and 3/4 cups flour
Essence of Emeril (see Chef Notes)
Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
3 eggs beaten
1/4 cup milk
10 legs duck confit (from above)
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine the pecans with 1 and 1/2 cups of the flour. Pulse until the pecans are finely ground, being careful not to over-process the mixture to a paste. Season the mixture with the Essence of Emeril. In a shallow bowl, season the remaining flour with salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Dredge the confit legs in the seasoned flour. Dip each leg in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the legs in the pecan mixture, coating each leg completely. Heat two ovenproof saute pans, each large enough to hold five duck legs without crowding, over medium-high heat. Divide the olive oil among the two pans and heat. Lay the pecan-crusted legs into the hot oil, five per pan. Pan fry the legs for 3 minutes on the first side, flip and remove the pan from the heat. Place the pans in the preheated oven and cook the duck legs for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towel, and keep warm.

WILTED SPINACH SALAD
2 and 1/2 cups andouille sausage, finely chopped (see Chef Notes)
1/4 cup shallot, minced
2 and 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups olive oil
Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
10 cups fresh spinach, cleaned, stems removed, and firmly packed

In a hot saute pan, sear the andouille sausage for 1 minute, until the fat renders. Add the shallot, garlic, and chopped onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small stainless steel container and set aside in a warm place. Reserve the red onion and spinach until service.

SERVICE
Using a 2 and 1/2-inch round metal cutter, cut circles out of the bread pudding. Place the spinach into the large mixing bowl and toss with the red onions and the warm vinaigrette. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Mound some salad onto one side of each of ten serving plates. Lay a duck confit leg on top of each salad and a round of bread pudding on the side.

CHEF NOTES
To toast the pecans, place the nuts on a sheet pan and set in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely before using. Essence of Emeril is a proprietary spice blend available in grocery and gourmet stores. As a substitute, use any combination of sweet and hot spices to your taste. Andouille is a dense smoked sausage typical of Louisiana. It can be found in most specialty meat or charcuterie shops. Do not confuse Cajun andouille with French andouille, which is a tripe sausage typical of Lyons.