Cherry Whiskey Braised Duck Tomato Pie with Popcorn Dust Frico

2015 Recipe Contest Grand Prize Winner, Sandi Sheppard, Norman, OK
This winning recipe is an updated version of the classic Southern tomato pie featuring duck. While there are a lot of ingredients, many of the steps can be prepared a day ahead of time. It's well worth the effort.


Serving Size {4 servings}


Cherry Whiskey Braised Duck:
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground White Pepper
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/8 tsp. Cayenne
1 lb. Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast Meat Trim
1 Tbsp. Maple Leaf Farms All Natural Rendered Duck Fat
1/2 Sweet Yellow Onion, sliced
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
1/2 cup Cherry Pie Whiskey Liqueur or Kirsch
1/2 cup Cherry Juice
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp. Pecan Liquid Smoke

Cheesy Duck Sausage Crust:
1/4 lb. Maple Leaf Farms All Natural Ground Duck Sausage
1 1/4 cups All Purpose Baking Mix
1 tsp. Rubbed Sage
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cubed
3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Reserved Braising Liquid
1/2 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Carmelized Onions & Peppers:
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Sweet Yellow Onion, rough chopped
4 oz. Tricolor Mini Bell Peppers, rough chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. Cherry Pie Whiskey Liqueur
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

Tomato Pie Filling & Topping:
2/3 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
2 tsp. Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
1 tsp. Dried Basil
1/2 tsp. Granulated Garlic Powder
10 oz. Heirloom Multicolor Cherry Tomatoes, small ones halved lengthwise, larger ones quartered
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Reserved Braising Liquid
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch

Popcorn Dust Frico:
1 cup Popped Popcorn (unsalted)
2 tsp. Melted Butter
2/3 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. Tuxedo Sesame Seeds
Smoked Sea Salt

Flash Fried Basil Leaves:
1 cup Peanut or Pure Vegetable Oil
8 large Fresh Basil Leaves


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The following items can be prepared a day in advance:

Cherry Whiskey Braised Duck
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, allspice, ginger and cayenne, and season both sides of the duck.
3. Heat a heavy skillet on medium to medium-low, and add the duck fat.
4. Brown for 5 minutes; turn and brown for another 3-4 minutes. Set aside the skillet for use in preparing the crust.
5. Line a deep 1-1/2 quart baking dish with the onion and rosemary sprig.
6. Add the whiskey, cherry juice, stock and liquid smoke to the baking dish.
7. Lay the duck on top of the onions and rosemary. Cover tightly with foil, and braise (cook) in the oven for 35 minutes.
8. Remove meat to a cutting board to cool; then chop into small pieces and set aside.
9. Strain the braising liquid and reserve for use in the crust and sauce.

Cheesy Duck Sausage Crust
1. Heat the same skillet that was used for the duck breast to medium-low, and brown the duck sausage, breaking it into small pieces while cooking, for about 5 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to place sausage into a bowl and set aside to cool. Set aside the skillet and sausage drippings for use in cooking the onions and peppers.
3. In another bowl, mix the baking mix, sage, thyme and salt, and use a pastry cutter/blender to cut in the butter until it resembles course cornmeal.
4. Add the cream, sour cream, 1 tablespoon braising liquid, cheese and cooled sausage, and use your hands to mix well.
5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes or overnight.

Caramelized Onions & Peppers
1. Add the butter to the pan drippings in the skillet and turn heat to low.
2. Add all ingredients and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
3. Remove to a small bowl and stir in the chopped duck meat. Hold covered in the refrigerator until assembly of pies.

The day of preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Lightly spray four (4) 5" diameter tart baking dishes with cooking spray. Divide the Cheesy Duck Sausage Crust dough into four equal portions. Evenly press it out over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared baking dishes and prick the bottom of the dough several times with a fork.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
4. In a bowl, combine the cheddar, Parmesan, ricotta, mayonnaise, sour cream, jerk seasoning, basil and garlic powder for the Tomato Pie Filling. Mix; then pour equal amounts over the partially baked crusts, spreading evenly to within a quarter inch from the outer rim of the crust.
5. Spoon the duck meat, onion and pepper mixture evenly over the top.
6. In a small bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes with the oil, salt and pepper, then place equal amounts, cut-sides down, evenly over the duck mixture.
7. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the top of filling and crust is lightly browned. Let rest 10 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 cup of braising liquid with the cornstarch and stir into a small saucepan with the remaining liquid. Heat just until thickened, and then remove from heat.

Garnish & Plating:

Popcorn Dust Frico
1. Place ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely processed.
2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mixture in an oblong strip on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used.
3. Bake for about 7-1/2 minutes, or until beginning to brown.
4. Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with smoked sea salt.
5. Allow to cool and remove from parchment paper.

Flash Fried Basil Leaves
1. Heat the oil in a small heavy skillet, and when shimmering, flash fry the leaves for just a few seconds without turning, or until translucent and bright green.
2. Carefully remove to a paper towel.

1. To serve, place each dish on a serving plate, and top each one with a strip of frico, positioned upright horizontally in the center and supported by tomatoes. Place two fried basil leaves propped against the frico.
2. Spoon some of the thickened braising liquid onto the plates or in small bowls on the side.
3. Garnish with popcorn, if desired.

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