By Daniel Meyer
Yesterday, in my capacity as occasional co-tester of Mark’s recipes, I wound up with a duck. My responsiblities to this bird were fairly light: scribble down the easiest way to cut it up, roast the carcass with some vegetables, and make stock. Easy enough.
After stashing the legs and a breast in the freezer, straining the stock, and nibbling on the vegetables (soft and slick with duck fat) for lunch, I was left with a single boneless breast and a roasted/simmered carcass. I picked the meat from the carcass, scored and salted the breast, and put it in the fridge (right next to the container of day-old white rice.) Fate sealed. Duck fried rice for dinner.
I started with the breast, skin-side down, in a cold skillet over medium-low heat (the modest and gradual heat gently renders out the fat without burning it.) It took about eight minutes to crisp the skin, then three or four on the other side to cook the meat to a rosy pink.
With the breast resting under foil on the cutting board, I added some of the meat pulled from the carcass and cooked it in the rendered fat until chewy and crisp (essentially duck carnitas, a dish worthy in its own right.) After the crisping it all went very quickly: I added sliced carrots and celery and cooked them until just pliant, then the rice until barely browned, minced garlic and ginger until fragrant, and finally a beaten egg until scrambled (salting everything to taste along the way.) I sliced the duck breast over the top of the rice and that was it.
All in all, this was one of the more indulgent and satisfying dishes I’ve made in a while. There are probably a million things to do with duck that’s now in the freezer, but my best guess is that I’ll just wind up making this again.
A couple of representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, evidently stung by my column last week (in which I called the agency “spineless”), scheduled a phone call to remind me that the F.T.C. doesn’t have the ability to pass legislation that determines how Big Food markets to children.
I knew that. But that doesn’t mean the F.T.C. needs to praise the industry for its ridiculously transparent self-regulation scheme. Here’s Jon Leibowitz, agency chairman, quoted in The Times: “The industry’s uniform standards are a significant advance and exactly the type of initiative the commission had in mind when we started pushing for self-regulation more than five years ago.”
(Read the rest of this post here)
So last week I wrote about oatmeal, now I’m cooking it.
Thank you to everyone who has read the Minimalist column. It has been thirteen wonderful years of cooking and thinking about food. Here’s to many, many more (and some champagne for the road.)
My friend and colleague Gabe Johnson has shot and produced every single Minimalist video (more than 200.) Here he describes his favorite one to shoot (and more importantly to eat.)
Today I’m bidding farewell to The Minimalist. It’s been thirteen wonderful years (almost 700 columns.) I may be leaving the Dining section (there might be some return appearances,) but I’m not travelling far. Starting next week I’ll be writing in The Times opinion pages (and in a new blog there as well,) and beginning in March in The Times Magazine (plenty of recipes, most Sundays.) Check back throughout the day for some bonus links.
You could cook variations of these three recipes for the rest of your life and be sitting pretty.
I’m giving away copies of the new How to Cook Everything iPad App, one every day until new year’s eve. Just sign up for the newsletter (look to your left) to enter the running. I’ll pick an email address at random and send you the App.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended
Free-form meat loaf has several advantages over those cooked in loaf pans: It develops a lovely crust on three sides instead of just one, and the fat can run off, rather than become trapped between pan and meat. Plus it’s easy to shape by hand and always turns out in the shape you wanted. You can also shape this mixture into meatballs if you like; just bake them for about half the time.