Monday, November 3, 2008

Duck... Duck... Chicken!

The September "Paris" issue of Gourmet magazine featured a section devoted to succulent duck confit. My mouth has been watering for a recipe featured on page 137 ever since I read about it: Asian Noodles with Barbecued Duck Confit. I took the first step the other day when I visited the Hong Kong Supermarket to retrieve Chinese black vinegar. Tonight, I almost made it.

The thing about duck confit, aside from the fact that it is delicious, is that it's a quintessential "restaurant" dish. Typically when I eat at a restaurant, particularly ones with a reputable executive chef, I like to order a.) whatever the house recommends or b.) something I don't have the means to make at home. At French restaurants, often this dish is the duck confit. As much as I want to try to make it, it is time consuming, and I currently lack not only the time but also the equipment (i.e., deep fat thermometer) to give it a go.

Hoping to find it instead at the counter of one of my local high-end markets, my efforts proved fruitless, and I wondered instead if chicken legs for $2.75 could suffice. The Chinese black vinegar was difficult enough to locate - if I couldn't find cheater's duck confit in New York, who would really try this recipe?

The chicken turned out to be a fine substitute. I would absolutely make this spicy Asian barbecue chicken again, but I think next time I would serve it on rice. The noodles were great, and overall I thought it was a good dish. My husband didn't care for it though; too many clashing flavors for his taste. In my adapted recipe below, I only replace the duck confit with the chicken (and cook it a little longer) and I also cut some of the Chinese black vinegar, because it is incredibly potent.

Recipe for Asian Noodles with Barbecued Chicken Legs (adapted from Gourmet):

For the noodles:

  • 7 oz dried rice-stick noodles (rice vermicelli)
  • 2 small carrots, thin sliced
  • 1 handful of green beans, trimmed
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, coarsely chopped - basil, cilantro and a little mint

For the chicken glaze:

  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce)

For the noodle sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 + 1/2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Soak the noodles covered in cold water for 30 minutes. In one small bowl, stir together all the glaze ingredients. In another small bowl, stir together the sauce ingredients. Place the chicken legs skin-side up on the rack of a broiler pan, then pour about 1/2 to 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, and brush about 1/2 the glaze on the legs. Roast until brown, about 20 minutes, and flip the legs, brush with glaze, and cook another 5-10 minutes. Flip one more time, brush with remaining glaze, and turn the oven to broil. Crisp under the broiler until skin is a little black, about another 3 minutes. Meanwhile, blanch the carrots in a small saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Return the water to a boil, and cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with carrots. Bring a pasta pot of water to a boil. Drain the noodles, and cook in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain again, and transfer back to the bowl. Add the sauce, carrots, beans and scallions, and toss with tongs. Serve the noodles with chicken legs on top, and generously garnished with the fresh herbs.

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