Not Your Average Taco Tuesday

Duck Carnitas topped with chopped cabbage and celery slaw and a sweet citrus mango and chipotle salsa

I’m a lifelong carnivore and one of my favorite meats is duck, I just love its fatty richness. But its not something I get to enjoy too often since not too many places have duck on their menu. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised when we found a place in Newport Beach that makes “canarditas” tacos using duck confit recently. We really enjoyed them and thought it would be interesting to try to recreate these at home. Fortunately, duck legs are pretty easy to come by and not too terribly expensive at one of the Vietnamese markets near us. Otherwise this would be relegated to special occasions only eating due to the time involved and expense.

Confit is an old school method for cooking and preserving meats that predates modern refrigeration.  The old method for doing this was to put various duck parts into a ceramic crock and cover it with fat then cook it slowly in the over, when cooled the fat would form a seal around the duck. Then one could melt and filter the fat and use it over and over again. The newer way is to seal the duck and its fat with a vacuum sealer and then cook low in slow in a water bath.

Fair warning, the preparation for this takes several days. The first step is to season and salt the duck and let it air dry in the fridge. I made a paste of 2 cloves of garlic, 2 TBS of salt and and about 20 peppercorns, that crushed up in a mortar and pestle, I turned the paste out into a bowl then added another 2 TBS of coarse salt. I scored the skin side of the duck legs laid them out on a walled baking sheet and rubbed the duck legs with the salt mixture. I placed the tray of salted duck legs uncovered in the fridge and let air dry overnight.

duck legs scored then seasoned with salt pepper and garlic

The next day, I used a clean pastry brush to remove all the salt that I could. You can also rinse the duck off in cool water then thoroughly dry the duck with paper towels. The duck we had did error to the salty side so I would suggest the rinse method over the brush method. I then sealed the duck in vacuum bags along with extra duck fat, fresh oregano, garlic and lemon zest (there’s also some seasoned with lime, lemongrass garlic and ginger for another recipe.)


duck sealed in vacuum bags with duck fat, herbs and spices

Then I cooked the duck in a water bath at 170F for 12 hours.

duck cooking in a 170F water bath.

Once the duck was cooked, I placed the bags into an ice bath to quickly drop the temperature down and the placed in the fridge.


To make the “canarditas,” I removed the skin pulled and shredded the leg meat. I cooked it in a skillet on medium with a teaspoon or so of the left over fat to crisp up some of the meat.

The meat from the duck legs getting crispy in the skillet.

I made tacos with hand-made corn tortillas (see video below), cabbage and celery slaw and a citrus, mango chipotle salsa.

Citrus Mango Chipotle Salsa

The juice of the 3 oranges and 1 grapefruit

1 crushed clove of garlic

1 TBS adobo from a can of chipotles in adobe

1 TBS of duck demi glace (the gelatinized liquid left over from the sous vide process)

½ tsp ground cumin

2 TBS marmalade

1 mango peeled, seeded

I heated the orange and grapefruit juice, mango and duck demi glace  over medium low heat. I added a crushed garlic clove, one tablespoon of adobe from a can of chipotles, and 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade I heated until the marmalade was melted and the sauce reduced by half, removed from heat then let cool. Then I blended until smooth.


Plum tart… or pie or whatever you wanna call it.

Tarts and pies are a nice way to enjoy seasonal fruits. Since plum season is winding to a close, what better way to enjoy them, than a plum tart? I’ve used this crust recipe with pretty good success, but use whatever crust recipe works for you or store bought. Yes, I did just suggest store bought pie crust. Commercial crust is usually pretty thick and tough, so you’ll need to roll it out so its thinner and more pliable.

You’ll need a smallish tart pan 8 or 9 inches in diameter. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can use a pie plate you’ll just need more fruit to fill the plate and the “pie” will take longer to bake.

Plum Tart Filling
6-8 plums cut into 1/2 inch wedges
dash of salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch
2 TBS lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of the tart pan with the crust. Dock the crust and line with foil and then uncooked dry beans (don’t try to re-cook the beans they will never soften and be edible, but they’ll be great for blind baking crusts). Bake the crust ‘n beans in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil with the beans and let the crust.

In a large mixing bowl, combine plums, salt, brown sugar, lemon zest and the ground cinnamon. Put the corn starch into a small cup and add the lemon juice, stir with a fork until the corn starch is broken up. You may have a few lumps but thats okay. Pour the corn starch mixture in with the plums and stir until the plums are well coated. Let the mixture set for about 30 minutes, so that the natural juices start to come out of the fruit.

Pour the filling mixture into the shell and bake fo 40 minutes at 350ºF.

You can top the tart with a crumb topping or use another crust and make lattice top. I brush the lattice crust with cream or milk and dust it with a little sugar before baking. If you notice the crust or crumb topping is browning too much, cover it with foil.

Crumb (Struesel) Topping
1/2 AP Flour
1/4 Brown Sugar
1/2 stick unsweetened butter (softened)

Combine in a small bowl and blend with a fork until its crumbly…

Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting and Cashew Brittle

I associate the rich flavor of caramel and nut brittles with Fall. So here’s a fairly quick brittle recipe that is a great topping for cakes, cupcakes, brownies or ice cream if you’re feeling decadent. Just use your favorite recipe for yellow cake and caramel frosting. My recipe for Cashew Brittle is below.

Cashew Brittle Recipe
5 TBS Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Light Corn Syrup
3/4 cup water
1 Cup Nuts
1/4 tsp baking soda
Cayenne Pepper to taste

Stir sugar, butter and 3/4 cup water in 3 quart saucepan over medium high heat just until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Cook without stirring 15 to 18 minutes until candy thermometer registers 280 degrees, soft crack stage.
Remove from heat; stir in baking soda and all nuts. Pour mixture immediately onto ungreased large cookie sheet; spread quickly into even layers about 1/2 inch thick. Cool completely about 30 minutes. Break cooled brittle into small chunks.