BasqueStage Recipe – Liberty Duck Omakase

Hey everyone! As you all know I am applying for a spot in the BasqueStage Scholarship program sponsored by Sammic. As part of the application process, the top 30 finalists have to make a video and then blog about a recipe. It took me days after before I thought of a concept (it came to me while frenching 50 pounds of duck breasts). I settled on the Japanese phrase “omakase” meaning “I’ll leave it to you.” I’ve been in plenty of sushi restaurants where if you order omakase, the chef will bring you a series of dishes he/she thinks is the best in house.

I took the omakase concept and applied it to one of my favorite proteins to work with: duck. Now having lived in Napa for about 2 years now and being a responsible cheffy, I looked up a local duck farm in Sonoma county and found Sonoma County Poultry. Jim Reichardt (founder and owner) carries a special breed of “Liberty Ducks.” Here’s what Jim has to say about them:

“Our ‘Liberty Ducks’ are a strain of Pekin Duck that was developed in Denmark and is suited to a slower, less stressful style of rearing. This results in a market age of about 9 weeks as opposed to six weeks for other commercially grown birds. Sonoma County has the perfect climate for raising ducks in this style. Our temperate climate allows us to raise Liberty Ducks year-round, on straw litter, in an open environment with a minimum of intrusion. Liberty Ducks receive no antibiotics or hormones and are fed a diet that consists largely of corn and other grains. The combination of all these factors result in the best, most flavorful duck available in the country today.”

I immediately called Jim and bought two of his prized Liberty Ducks for my omakase meal. Upon receiving them, the flesh smelled sweet (not at all gamey!) and the color was a glorious ruby red. I knew I had to honor these birds; so I made a omakase meal utilizing the entire animal from head to tail. The flavor profiles behind these dishes are Chinese, Japanese, and Napa Valley. Kind of like Chef Hiro at Terra, if you will.

Now lets get started!


5 Spiced Duck Prosciutto 

Baby Heirloom Carrots, Pickled Quail Egg, Heirloom Radishes


The unctuous fat of the Liberty duck is unparalleled. Instead of being cloying and chewy like most mass-produced ducks, the fat on the Liberty duck instantly melts away like the finest iberico ham. I decided to up the richness and appetizing factor by pickling some soft boiled quail eggs. The vegetables are left in their raw state, these baby heirloom veggies have an inherent sweetness and earthiness that they pretty much season themselves (some maldon helps kick it up a notch). I served this as my first course, since it’s a crudo/charcuterie dish.


Crispy Boneless Duck Neck

Soy Caramel, Avocado Foam, Padrone Peppers, Baby Sea Cucumber

When I was a kid, my favorite morsel of the roast ducks and pekin ducks my family used to always order at the Chinese restaurants was the neck. It was so greasy, slightly chewy, packed full of flavor, and the skin was ever so light and crisp. This is a more modern take on it, I braised the duck necks in the traditional Chinese marinade of soy, honey, a bit of xiao xing wine, and garlic at 75C for 12 hours. I also reserved all the neck skin from the ducks and scraped them clean of any glands and sinewy fat. After the necks were done braising, I stripped all the meat from the neck and proceeded to stuff the meat back into the neck skin. To help hold everything together, I used some Activa RM to help bind everything together. After the reconstructed neck was set, I proceeded to slowly render out the fat on a pan over low heat and carefully browned all sides. The result was amazing; it had all the qualities of the duck neck I oh so loved in my childhood, minus all the bones! The avocado foam gave the neck some more moisture and a creamy note while the peppers added heat. The baby sea cucumber was an interesting herb I came across in the walk-in one day; it tastes of the sea and is also surprisingly refreshing like a cold cucumber.


Cryo Seared Liberty Duck Breast

Grilled Micro Leek, Pickled Heirloom Radish, Tea Smoke

For those of you who don’t know what cryo searing is, it’s when you render away fat (usually duck) without even cooking the meat. Through cryo searing g, most of all the fat under the skin would be rendered but none of the meat would be cooked, thus allowing the chef to cook the breast to a perfect medium rare. I know what you’re thinking, cryo searing renders all the fat out of the breast right? Why did I leave a layer of fat then? Let me just tell you that the fat on these breasts was extremely thick. I wanted to render most of it out, but still wanted a nice layer of it on each slice of breast. The fat is not tough or chewy; in fact it melts lusciously, kinda of like pork belly. I cold smoked the breast with some oolong tea my mom brought back from Taiwan and I feel it gave the meat a more delicate and complex taste. I cooked the breast to a perfect 128F in the combi oven on 25% humidity for an hour and a half. The meat came out so tender, you would’ve thought it was raw just by poking it. The result of cooking it low and slow resulted in a silky tender piece of duck. The grilled baby leeks tasted like ramps and gave the dish a pleasant onion/garlic taste. The pickled radishes and spring onions gave the dish much needed acidity and brings balance to the duck fat.

And now the grand finale:


Rotisserie Duck Ssam Ramen

Duck Confit, Duck Giblet Pork Sausage, 60 C Duck Egg, King Trumpet, Enoki, Aged Red Miso Broth

This dish was a no brainer ender to the omakase meal. For my entire life, whenever my mom or grandma would cook for me, they would always end the meal with noodles or soup. I decided to combine them both and make a kick ass ramen dish that anyone would salivate over. This dish is the one dish that combines every single part of the animal into one cohesive meal. The duck ssam is very similar to the one served at Momofuku Ssam Bar (my old workplace) but with a few tweaks to make it mine; the sausage stuffed under the skin is a farce made from duck legs, wings, all the giblets, pork shoulder, and pork fat. I then paint the outside of the bird with maltose syrup to give it a deep rich mahogany color when I roasted it on the rotisserie. The layering of crisp sweet skin, juicy sausage, and medium rare duck breast is most delightful on the palette.

All the bones I saved from the butchering of the ducks were browned off and made into stock. I flavored the stock with aged red miso which in essence, gives the broth an “umami bomb.”

Every time I have ramen, I must have a soft poached egg in it, so I decided to go with the “mother and child” concept and poached a duck egg to a meltingly soft 60 celsius.

Well there you have it, my Liberty Duck omakase style for my BasqueStage recipe. I hope you are hungry after finishing reading all of this!

90% of all the dishes shown here was done by feel and intuition, so writing out the recipes would be difficult. If you have questions, please ask!  Don’t worry, you are in good hands!


~ by Clifton Su on October 18, 2012.

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