Five-Spice Duck Legs with Warm Pickled Fennel, Cherries and Persimmons, Persimmon Gel and Chrysanthemum Jus

Student Finalist 2017 Chef Recipe Contest, Adam Conigliaro, The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA


Serving Size {4 Servings}


Chicken Stock:
1 cup Leeks, rough chop
3 large Carrots, rough chop
1/2 bunch Chinese Celery, rough chop
1 large Red Onion, rough chop
1 large knob Ginger, rough chop
2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 large Chicken Carcass
1 lb Chicken Feet
1 bunch Cilantro
6-10 cloves Garlic
20 Szechuan Peppercorns
5 Star Anise
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 gal Cold Water

Duck Stock:
1 large Maple Leaf Farms Duck Carcass

1 large Red Onion, rough chop
3 large Carrots, rough chop
1/2 bunch Chinese Celery, rough chop
1 cup Leeks, rough chop
2 Tbsp Canola Oil

3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 cup Plum Wine
1 lb Chicken Feet

Five-Spice Blend-
20 Szechuan Peppercorns
1/4 cup Fennel Seed
6 Cloves
5 Star Anise
3 Cinnamon Sticks

10 cloves Garlic
10 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 cup Oolong Tea Leaves (or about 5 tea bags)
2 Bay Leaves
3 sheets Kombu Seaweed
2 qts Chicken Stock

Chrysanthemum Jus:
1 stalk Leek
1/4 cup Rice Wine
2 qts Duck Stock (recipe above)
4 Garlic Cloves

Five-Spice Blend-
1 Tbsp Szechuan Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Fennel Seed
3 Cloves
2 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick

15 grams Chrysanthemum Flowers
1/4 cup Molasses Syrup
2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

Compressed Fruit:
1 lb Fresh Cherries
8 Underripe Persimmons (firm)

Persimmon Gel:
1 pint Persimmon Juice
1% body weight ratio Agar Agar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Citric Acid

Warm Pickled Fennel:
2 bulbs Fennel
1 cup Sea Salt
2- 16 oz bottles Rice Wine Vinegar
1 cup Sugar
Salt, to taste

Five-Spice Maple Leaf Farms Duck Legs:
4 large Maple Leaf Farms Duck Legs
1 cup Molasses, divided

Five-Spice Blend-
20 Szechuan Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Fennel Seed
8 Cloves
4 Star Anise
2 Cinnamon Sticks

4 Garlic Cloves
1% weight of leg/thighs Seasoned Salt
4 Tbsp Chrysanthemum Jus (Recipe Above)
2 quarts Canola Oil

Chef's Note: All ingredients can be found at an Oriental supermarket.


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Chicken Stock:
1. Rough chop all of the vegetables and ginger. Remove and discard the green ends of the leeks.
2. Place stockpot on medium-high heat and add the canola oil.
3. Sweat or lightly sauté the mirepoix until the onions are translucent. (No brown color or caramelization is desired in the mirepoix as this is a light stock).
4. Place the chicken carcass and the chicken feet on top of the mirepoix.
5. Toss in the bunch of cilantro, garlic cloves, peppercorns, star anise and the bay leaves.
6. Add cold water to bring the mixture to 1 inch from the top of the rim.
7. Raise the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil, then lower the heat so that the stock stays at a simmer for 4 hours or until the liquid has been reduced to about 2 quarts. Skim the fat and impurities from the top of the stock as it reduces.
8. Strain the stock, discard all the cooked mirepoix and bones, and store the stock for later use.

Duck Stock:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roast the duck carcass until it is golden brown and set aside.
2. Rough chop the vegetables to make the mirepoix. Remove and discard the green ends of the leeks.
3. Heat stockpot on medium heat. Add the oil and sauté the mirepoix until the onions become translucent (it is okay to caramelize the mirepoix a little bit because this will be a brown stock).
4. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the mirepoix.
5. Deglaze the pot with the plum wine.
6. Place the duck carcass and the chicken feet on top of the mirepoix.
7. Add all the spices, garlic, mushrooms, tea, bay leaves and kombu seaweed.
8. Add the chicken stock and enough water to bring the stock to 1 inch from the top of the rim.
9. Turn the heat up to high and bring the stock to a boil; then lower it to a simmer. Reduce the stock for 3-4 hours until about 2 quarts of liquid remain. Skim any fat and impurities from the top of the stock as it reduces.
10. Strain the stock; discard the cooked mirepoix and bones.

Chrysanthemum Jus:
Special Equipment Needed: Fine mesh strainer
1. Cut the leeks lengthwise down the center and place 1/2 of the leek cut side-down in a pot on medium-low flame. Save the other half of the leek for another use or discard it.
2. Char the leek half until the sliced side is almost black to make a leek brulee.
3. Move the leek to the side to expose the burnt surface in the pan. Pour in the rice wine to deglaze.
4. Reduce the liquid by half, then pour in the duck stock. Bring the liquid to a boil.
5. Add the garlic, dry spices and chrysanthemum flowers and lower the heat so that the liquid is at a light simmer.
6. Season the liquid by adding molasses and dark soy sauce. At this stage, it is crucial to taste the jus periodically to check for proper seasoning.
7. Reduce the liquid slowly until it coats the back of a spoon or is nappe. Adjust seasoning if necessary. The jus should be dark brown in color.
8. Strain jus with the fine mesh strainer and set aside.

Compressed Fruit:
Special Equipment Needed: juicer, vacuum sealer with bags
1. Remove the pits from the cherries with a pitter. Divide the cherries into two equal portions.
2. With a sharp knife, slice half of the cherries into 1/4-inch thick wheels, so that a hole is in the center of each slice. Place the sliced cherries inside a vacuum seal bag.
3. Peel the persimmons and remove the leafy brown greens from the top. Cut 5 of the persimmons in half and pass these 5 through the juicer. Reserve the juice.
4. Slice the remaining 3 persimmons into orange slice shapes.
5. Place the persimmon segments into a vacuum seal bag and pour about 2/3 cup of the persimmon juice into the bag. Seal the bag to compress the fruit. Reserve the segments for later use.
6. Pass 1 cup of water through the juicer to remove any remaining persimmon juice, then pass the remaining half pound of the cherries through the juicer.
7. Pour all the juice into the bag with the sliced cherries and seal it with the vacuum sealer to compress the cherries. Set this aside.

Persimmon Gel:
Special Equipment Needed: food scale, high powered blender, vacuum sealer
1. Weigh the agar agar.
2. Pour the persimmon juice in the saucepot and bring the liquid to a simmer.
3. Add the dry ingredients and whisk them.
4. Keep whisking for another minute to hydrate the agar agar.
5. Pour the hot liquid out onto the small sheet tray and place it in a refrigerator until it sets to a firm consistency, (approximately 20-30 min).
6. With a spoon, break up the hardened gel and place it in a blender. Starting on a low setting, blitz the stiff gel to get rid of the large clumps.
7. Raise the rate of the blender speed slowly until it reaches max speed, and blend for about 1 minute until all the clumps have disappeared.
8. Note: this step is optional but will yield a smoother product. Pour the mixture into two separate pint containers filled halfway. Place the pint containers in the vacuum sealer and set the vacuum sealer for 40 seconds. Shut the lid and vacuum all remaining air bubbles from the gel. If using a simple vacuum sealer, place the fluid gel in a vacuum bag and seal it.
9. Store the gel in a squeeze bottle. Set aside.

Warm Pickled Fennel:
1. Cut off the top of the bulb of fennel and reserve the fronds for later use. (Cut small 1-inch size trimmings from the fennel fronds and reserve for plating.) Cut the bulb in half lengthwise.
2. Remove the white core by slicing a v-shape into it on either side and discard.
3. Peel apart the fennel bulb to get individual petals.
4. Place each leaf with the center side facing down and slice vertically 1/16-inch slices. Place them in a colander.
5. Dump the cup of salt over the fennel slices. This will extract some bitterness and some water content. Mix it well and let it drain in a sink for 10 minutes.
6. During the 10-minute span, put the rice wine vinegar in a pot and season with the sugar and 2 pinches of salt. Warm up the pickling liquid just until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 140 degrees F, and then remove from heat.
7. When the 10 minutes have passed, rinse off the salt from the fennel and strain. Place the fennel in the pickling liquid and let sit until it warms. Set aside.

Five-Spice Maple Leaf Farms Duck Drumstick/Thigh:
Special Equipment Needed: vacuum sealer, sous vide cooker
1. French the legs by scoring the skin around the bone 1/2-inch above the knee joint. Pull off the skin or shave it with a knife. Use scissors to trim any exposed tendons.
2. Use a sharp knife to remove the joint so that a straight leg bone remains.
3. Brush molasses on each leg. Catch any molasses drippings that come off the legs in a bowl and reserve.
4. Place chopsticks or wooden spoons over a hotel pan so they balance across the top. Place the duck legs on these sticks and store the legs in the refrigerator for a day. This will dry out the skin and increase the duck flavor.
5. Take the legs out the next day. Fill a large pot to the surface with the water and set the sous vide cooker at 180 degrees F.
6. Set 2 legs in each vacuum bag, seasoning with the spices, garlic, seasoned salt, remaining molasses and some chrysanthemum jus. Seal the bags and place them in the water bath, covering the top with aluminum foil, for 6 hours.
7. Remove the legs from the bath and the vacuum packages and set aside to dry on a paper towel.
8. In a medium pot, pour in the canola oil and bring to 350 degrees F on the stovetop. Once the legs have air-dried, set them in the hot oil until the skin has become golden brown and crispy. Take them out and let them air-dry on a paper towel. An optional step for plating is to brush some of the jus on the crispy skin to give it a shine.

1. Heat the chrysanthemum jus in a small saucepot. If it is too thick, add a tablespoon of water to loosen it up.
2. Use a small spoon to drizzle the jus on the plate in a random pattern (use the entire circumference of the plate).
3. Remove the fruit from the vacuum-sealed bags and set in separate containers.
4. Take one handful of the warm pickled fennel and strain it over the pot. Place it in the center of the plate.
5. Place the fried drumstick/thigh on top of the pickled fennel, (again optional to glaze the drumstick/thigh with the jus).
6. Randomly place the compressed fruit slices around the plate.
7. Using a squeeze bottle, dot the plate with the persimmon gel between pieces of fruit. Make a combination of large and small dots.
8. Randomly scatter the 1-inch trimmed fennel fronds between and on top of the fruit.
9. Repeat this process three more times. Serve and enjoy with friends.

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