I’ve had so much amazing food already that I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite. But the food that I can barely wait to pop in my mouth, even at risk of ruining my appetite for dinner is grattons — crispy duck skin fried in its own fat.
After a lovely long lunch yesterday afternoon (I had a salad of warmm goat cheese with honey) and a visit to Bleu de Lectoure, where Kate’s friends have revived the lost tradition of woad dying, we returned to Camont and started back in on duck.
I worked on separating the fat from the meat, which was harder than I might have thought. We diced the fat, with skin attached, and dropped it all into a big stockpot — two ducks’ worth and then some. It rendered down all afternoon, imparting a ducky smell to the kitchen. A couple carcasses and some wings and necks went into another pot with water, a handful of thyme, two small halved onions, 4 bay leaves, 1 tsp peppercorns, two carrots and one leek. This simmered a couple hours and will make a rillete today.
Once the fat had rendered into a golden liquid we ladled out all the solids (the skin pieces) and dropped them into a big frying pan. These fried in their fat until crispy and irresistible. The rendered out fat went back into the pot of gold but by now I wasn’t paying attention because I was on to the grattons, which Kate calls Gascon popcorn. As soon as we seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed I began popping them into my mouth. I wish I could tell you how amazingly good they are — crispy on the outside, melting on the inside. I couldn’t stop once I started, even though I knew I would ruin my appetite.
For dinner we sauteed little brussels sprouts and apples from the market in some butter and some potatoes in duck fat. I poached an egg — Kate showed me a trick of swirling the water to make a little vortex to drop the egg in — while Erika made scrambled eggs for those who aren’t grossed out by mixing white and yolk (everyone else). The eggs were straight from the coop with the most vivid orange yolk. I topped it with grattons and sat down to one of the most satisfying dinners imaginable.
Today we are on to cassoulet!