Monday, April 14, 2008
I can see it in my head. The duck breast is sliced and fanned along the bottom half of the plate. A sauce of dried plums is spooned over it and on the upper half of the plate is...what? I have no idea. Menu writing has always been a struggle for me. I know chefs who can sit down and write menus one after another. Me? Not so easy. I don't consider myself very creative. I think and rethink and over think every dish that ever makes it onto one of my menus. Often times a dish takes shape because I see it in my head but have no idea what "it" is. I just start with the picture I see and go from there. That's where I now sit with this duck dish. I am not happy with the current incarnation on the menu and need to change it. I know what I want it to look like and sort of know what I want to serve with it, but not much else. Right now sunchokes are in season and they go very well with duck but I'm not so sure how well with dried plums. My problem lies in having to put a vegetable/starch with the dish. If I could just serve duck with dried plums and get away with charging $24, I would. But the customer has this thing with getting their money's worth and you have no idea how many times this gets in the way of a fantastic dish. What to serve with the plums? Maybe I can take a Japanese twist on this. Rice goes very nice with plums. We have wild rice in Michigan. I know, wild rice is a grass but the idea is still valid. OK, what to put into the rice. Some bamboo would be nice, but not much of that grown locally. Is there anything up here that can be used as a substitute for bamboo? It tastes kind of like corn. How about Asparagus? Asparagus season is quickly approaching, but I need to do something now. Besides, asparagus doesn't have much of a corn taste. Corn, but that's not in season for a couple more months. Corn...You know, I'm coming back to the sunchoke idea. Can I use sunchokes in the rice. They would add a nice crunch. I think I could. Served by themselves I don't think they would go well with the plums but added to the wild rice, well now, this changes things. Toss in some onion of some sort, some of the duck confit and I think we may have a dish. Sauteed Duck Breast with a Dried Plum Sauce and served with Wild Rice, Sunchokes and Duck Confit. How's that sound? I'm not completely sold yet. The rice needs some work. Can I make a fried rice out of wild rice? That sounds like fun, not Japanese but ideas have to evolve. Stir fry the rice with the sunchokes, confit, onion, maybe some egg. I like the way that sounds. Sauteed Duck Breast with a Dried Plum Sauce and Stir Fried Wild Rice with Sunchokes, Duck Confit and Onions. I'll see if I can get some of those cute little onions from one of the farmers. Sold. I'll get to work tomorrow finding the rice and other things and hopefully have the change in place by the week-end.