Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Gourmet fast food: duck confit pizza

At an interview a little while back I was asked what my favourite food was. How can anyone give just one answer to a question like that? It depends on so many things: the time of the year (and month...), your mood, the country you're in... everything! But yeah, pizza is one thing I can't imagine ever getting tired of. 

One of the very first things I remember noticing about The Boy Next Door during one of our very first dates was the fact that he ate his pizza just right. First he cut the pizza in slices, which he then lifted off the plate with his fingers, curving the slice just a little and into the mouth it went. "But pizza should be eaten with bare hands" he said, puzzled, as I studied all this with a smile on my face. Damn right it should!





So, I knew straight away what our entry would be for OivaPari recipe contest Pernod Ricard just launched for Campo Viejo Reserva 2008. The first three legs of the contest this spring were such a blast I couldn't wait for the next ones - especially after learning that the theme for the next three legs is that oh, so trendy fast food. But with a gourmet twist. You just watch this space - there are some serious treats coming your way later this year!

We paired the wine, medium-bodied with gentle spiciness and cherry and fig notes, with pizza. Not just any old pizza though, but pizza with stewed fennel, red onions and (wait for it...) duck confit! (I suppose it was only a  matter of time before my beloved duck found its way into a pizza, too...) And a fine pair it was, too. 

The dark, spicy notes of the pizza sauce add a little sharpness to the fatty richness of the duck, compliment the spicy notes of the wine and the pomegranate seeds add a nice burst of fresh berriness. 





You'll find the recipe for the crust here. I made a double dose this time, so depending on the size you'll get 4-5 large pizzas.

Prepare the dough and leave to rise in the fridge. You make the dough up to 3 days in advance. 

Pour onto a lightly floured surface and punch away the air bubbles. Divide into 4 and roll into balls. Brush with oil, cover loosely with cling film and a tea towel and leave to rise for another hour in a warm, draft-free place. In the meanwhile make the sauce and prepare the toppings. 

Pizza sauce:

2 dl red wine
2 tsp Chinese fivespice ( a blend of ground ginger, anise, fennel seeds and cinnamon bark) 
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3/4 dl good cranberry jelly
1 tbsp brown sugar
500 g passata
salt, black pepper

Measure wine into a pot with fivespice, orange zest and cloves. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then add cranberry jelly and let it melt. Then add sugar and passata. Cook over medium heat for half and hour. Let cool. Check taste and season with salt and pepper (and more sugar if desired).

Toppings:

4 mozzarella balls (á 125 g)
4 duck leg confits (recipe here if you don't want to use tinned ones)
2 bulbs of fennel
1 large red onion

To serve: coriander leaves, pomegranate seeds

Drain mozzarella and grate. Squeeze the grated cheese through some kitchen towels to get rid of excess moisture. Peel the leathery outer layers off the fennels, cut in half and remove the tough core. Cut into thin slices and sauté in a little bit or butter until softened. Add a little water and cook over low heat under the lid until soft - depending on the thickness 15-25 minutes. Drain and let cool.  Peel red onion and cut into thin slices. Drain the ducks (reserve the fat and use it for say, roasties!), peel off the skin and using your fingers, shred to chunks of desired size. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Pre-heat oven to 250º. If using pizza stone, put it in the oven now. If you don't own one, leave the tray in the oven to heat. This helps the crust to get crisp. Once oven has reached the right temperature, keep the stone in for another 45 minutes. 

On a floured surface roll the dough into thin discs. Since I myself haven't mastered the art of pizza-baking and fail to get round crusts that would satisfy my OCD-like quest of symmetry I use a big plate and cut the dough around it with a pizza-cutter. Voilà! The leftovers can be worked together into another pizza. 

Spread a little sauce on the crust (go easy on the toppings to avoid a soggy, sad pizza!) , followed by cheese, then fennel shavings, red onion and finally duck confit (This way they'll get that lovely crust). Bake until cheese has melted and crust has a little colour on it - about 8-10 minutes. 





Before serving sprinkle some pomegranate seeds and/or coriander leaves on top. And enjoy. For instance with Campo Viejo Reserve 2008! PS. For this the wine is best served a little chilled.





*In collaboration with Pernod Ricard Finland and their Oiva Pari recipe contest*


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