Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dinner for Three....made by me!

Tuesday night and Lindsay is in town!!!!! Woo I, in a loving gesture of friendship invited her and Jillian over for dinner, the rest of the guests bailed like pussycats. So the night started well a little Pinot Noir courtesy of the ladies. I was prepping our super delicious meal of duck breast, lobster, and roasted polenta with roasted veggies. Boring you say? No never! The polenta was quite nice I cheated a bit but the recipe was quite tasty. A little basil and little parmesan and you have magic. Roasted veggies can be boring, but with a little garlic and vinaigrette soak beforehand, you can get more bang. The duck fat rendered stove top, then thrown in the oven to finish, and lobster steamed...tada delicious. But then horror of horrors and comedy of comedies, Lindsay eats an onion and promptly get ill. Not at all funny but maybe slightly odd. But please note, a little background on Lindsay, she did not eat onions until a few weeks ago but decided to go full force into our meal and took a nice bite sized piece of grilled onion and popped it into her greedy little mouth. This proved to be the undoing of Lindsay's dance with onions for now I believe. Poor child to not have the chance to experience the ecstasy that can come from a glistening caramelized onion.
But the party continued with yogurt land fro yo and movie night! Cheers to friends!

Polenta and Roasted Veggie Side

4 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups polenta or cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup finely shredded basil leaves
Softened butter for the pan
Olive oil, as needed

Marinade and Vegetables:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices on the diagonal
2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices on the diagonal
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends removed
1/2 pound mushrooms
Make the Polenta: Bring the chicken stock, butter, pepper, and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. While whisking the hot stock in a quick circular motion, "rain" in the polenta by letting it stream through your fingers. (This will prevent lumping.)

Reduce the polenta to a gentle simmer; it must be stirred constantly for 25 to 35 minutes to prevent lumps or scorching. Be very careful when stirring, the mixture is very hot (think lava) and can burn you if it boils and sputters. If it begins to boil cover the pot and reduce the heat until boiling stops!

The polenta is cooked when it is no longer grainy and has become creamy. (My grandmother says good polenta takes 30 minutes, great polenta takes 1 hour).

Stir in the Parmesan and basil and pour onto a buttered sheet pan to cool. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cut the polenta into any shape you desire that's structurally sound. In other words, a shape that won't fall apart on the grill easily, or be difficult to remove from the sheet pan after roasting. Squares, triangles, stars etc.

Make the Marinade and Vegetables: Whisk together the vinegar and garlic. While whisking, drizzle in the oil to make a smooth dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the vegetables with the marinade.

When ready to serve, preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan.

Brush the polenta lightly on both sides with olive oil and grill, turning once, until the edges are brown and crispy.

At the same time grill the vegetables until they are tender but still firm.

Now the Duck:

Black Pepper-Sweet Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
4 (7-ounce) muscovy duck breast

For the Black Pepper-Sweet Mustard Sauce: Combine the mustards, honey, black pepper, thyme in a medium bowl and season with salt. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large ovenproof saute pan over high heat until smoking. Season each breast with salt and pepper to taste. Score the skin with a knife and sear the breast, skin-side down, until golden brown and fat has rendered, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove most of the fat, turn the breasts over and place them in the oven and cook for 8 to 12 minutes for medium rare doneness, remove duck and brush liberally with the mustard glaze. Let duck rest for 10 minutes, slice each breast on the bias.

The Lobster
This part was all me. I had teeny little baby tails but since the ladies and I split two duck breasts we each only needed one little tail. I boiled some water through the pup tails in and waited for the color and curl. Simple as can be you gotta watch em though, you want the opaque look not translucent on the meat please! Prior to throwing the tails in the pot I took a sharp knife and pierced through the shell almost all the way through for easier table eating.

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