Photos by MJ Klein Food Photos!
My honey was sick over the weekend and spent most of the time in bed resting (she is fine now). I was kinda bored on Saturday and wanted to do something.
Recently I was surprised at the number of blogs I’ve read where the blogger listed “cook more” as one of their New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do such resolutions but I do miss cooking. So I decided to do something that I haven’t done for awhile – cook outdoors in my Dutch oven. I went to our neighborhood store and picked up some stuff to cook.
I took my gear over to Shao-hui’s and set up on outside her place on the sidewalk. Shao-hui has given me permission to use her place for anything I want to cook. She’s given me free reign of her kitchen too, so sometimes you will find me in there cutting stuff up, making preparations, etc. I think that Shao-hui is interested in what I cook so she is happy when I set up outside and light a fire. Today was no exception.
This is my 12″ Dutch oven sitting on my cast aluminum grill. The reason that I used the grill in this case was because the stonework on the street is very cold during this time of year, and I felt that it might dampen the fire too much. I also was concerned about leaving a huge black burn mark on the street. I know that in a place where people throw trash on the street without a second thought (or a first one for that matter), no one would notice. But I am always concerned about leaving trash and debris behind when I do things outdoors.
These are the items I brought: Left to right, clockwise: cooking oil (there were 2 bottles), a whole duck and cut up potatoes (French fry cut). I bought the peanuts to munch on while I cooked the other items. Note: no alcohol this time.
I filled the 12″ with fresh cooking oil and put it on the fire to heat up. Once the oil reached the required temperature, I put in the French fries to cook. Here you see the oil bubbling as the fries are cooking.
But this is what I really wanted to cook – a duck. I cut the back end off so the duck body was completely open to the oil and therefore easier to cook. Also, the back end is where a lot of the fat is and I wanted to discard that portion. I love duck and duck fat but sometimes it can be a bit too much. In this shot the fire is behaving.
I flipped the duck over a few times during cooking because even though this is a big Dutch oven and I had no lack of cooking oil, as you can see in this photo, the top part of the duck protruded above the surface of the oil. Thus, whenever I turned the duck, some oil spilled of course and it caught fire. At no time was there any real danger however.
This is the result. One might think that a deep fried duck (or other poultry) would be dry, but that is far from the truth. Deep fried poultry is very moist and flavorful. Years ago I saw someone deep fry a turkey that had been injected with garlic and other spices and left to sit and develop the flavors. The deep fried turkey was unbelievable! So was this duck! Shao-hui took the leg missing in this photograph and was raving about it. Although it looks under cooked in this photo, that is just the natural color of the duck meat. It was perfectly cooked.
This is the drummer of the Fong Band cutting the duck up for us to enjoy. By the way, I’ve cut down on my drinking considerably. Since the New Year’s Eve party down at the disco the previous weekend, this was the first time that I had any alcohol to drink. I held it down to only 3 glasses.
This was a nice smoldering, smoky fire. I’ve written volumes about it before, but the reason grilled food tastes the way it does is because the food is flavored by the smoke. No smoke, no flavor. If you don’t believe me, try grilling some pork normally, and a few pieces wrapped in foil. The pieces that are isolated from the smoke will not taste grilled at all. They will taste like pork meat of course, but the grilled flavor will be missing. In that case you could have used virtually anything for a heat source.
So, that’s what I did on my boring Saturday!