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Author Notes: I love tacos. However, in an effort to reduce calories, I decided to riff one of my favorite foods. The hilarity of this recipe--as you will see--comes from how I decided to cut back because let's just say that this dish is rich. Very rich, but that is where my taco "shell" shines. Unctuous shredded-duck thighs, candied jalapenos, pickled apple cubes and cilantro encased in a pickled apple "taco shell." Bear with me because the prep can be long, but this is something that you can eat for days and not have to worry about troubling carbs; although, it may crush your cholesterol. —Matthew Bounous
Pickled Apples & Lime syrup
- 2 Honeycrisp apples
- 1-1/2 cups Water
- 1-1/2 cups Cider Vinegar
- 3/4 cup Honey--I recommend Lake Champlain Honey or Maple Syrup for a smokier/richer flavor
- 1 1" piece of Ginger--finely sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 10 Whole Black or Pink Peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Seeds
- 4 Limes
- 1/2 Lime juice's weight in water
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- pinches Kosher Salt
- First, start with the lime confit. Remove the peel from the limes in nice strips and finely julienne--for the smaller bits of rind on the lime, remove those and set aside. Juice the limes and weigh the juice, then add 1/2 the lime juice's weight in water. Add the sugar, salt and julienned rind. Put in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook on a low-heat for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half. Strain and reserve.
- Second, combine the water, vinegar, honey/syrup, ginger slices, coriander, peppercorns, salt and the lime scraps in a pot large enough to fit everything. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5mins, then allow to sit for 10mins.
- In the meantime, peel your apple--I like honeycrisp because of their size. Cut the two-largest faces of each apple and slice finely on a mandolin--approx. 2mm if possible. Then, with the other bits of apple, cube finely. Set the rounds in one bowl and the cubes in another, then cover each set of apples with the still warm pickling liquid.
- Leave in the fridge overnight.
Duck Confit & Accompaniments
- 1 Whole duck--approx. 4-5lbs--whole or segmented, but you want the bones. OR at least 2 duck thighs!
- 10 Whole Black Peppercorns
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Seed
- 1 Large Onion
- 2 Large Carrots
- 2 Jalapenos--1 red & 1 green
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Okay, everyone still on board? Good. Hang with me!
- If you did not purchase a whole duck, skip this step and the next. If you purchased a whole duck, debone and segment the duck into breasts, thighs, wings and bones. Trim as much fat as you can from the duck and put the fat in a large pot. Set on the stove over a low-heat and allow the fat to render.
- With the wings and duck bones, break those down into 2" by 2" pieces and put in a stock pot. Add the onion, carrots, a few black peppercorns, a pricked clove of garlic and a few cilantro stalks. Cover just enough with water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and let cook for 4-hours. Strain. Boil the stock vigorously until reduced from about a gallon to 2 cups, add a touch of butter and season to taste. You want the sauce to lightly coat a spoon when checking for consistency.
- With the duck thighs, set in a pot just large enough to fit them and cover with the rendered duck from above--if you do not have duck fat, cover with a good olive oil. Add the pricked garlic cloves, coriander, peppercorns. Heat the oil and thighs until you see a fine stream of bubbles appear around the edges of the duck or garlic. Keep at this temperature for 2-hours. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. We want to confit the thighs gently and not fry them. The thighs are ready when the meat recedes from the bones and shreds easily. This step can be done two or three days in advance and you can keep the thighs in the oil, the flavor will only enhance.
- Remove the thighs from the oil and allow to drain a bit. Carefully remove the duck skin and set aside. Shred the meat, season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
- Crisp the duck skin in a pan over a medium-low heat until it has rendered and is a nice golden-brown on both sides.
- With the fat from crisping up the duck skin, sauté the oyster mushrooms until just cooked.
- Take the pickled apples from the fridge and the lime syrup. We are about ready to assemble! Drain and dry the apple cubes and slices on a bit of paper towel. Are we still okay? We are two-steps away. I promise
- Finely slice the jalapenos or pepper of choice. Add about a teaspoon of the lime syrup and a drop of olive oil to a sauté pan, put over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno slices and toss to coat. Cook until the color is bright and the jalapenos are pliable and crisp, but not crunchy.
- Keep a pan over a medium-low heat and wipe it down with a bit of oil. With the large, thin rounds of apple, heat through in the pan until they just begin to turn golden around the edges and flip. This helps to dry them out after pickling and sweeten them up.
- Assembly! Lay one of the large, dried rounds of apple on the plate--they are surprisingly pliable, yet have a fantastic texture. Top with the shredded duck, a few slices of jalapeno, a few of the oyster mushrooms, a bit of the cubed pickled apple, a sprinkling of the chopped, crispy duck skin and finish with leaves of cilantro as well as seasoning to taste. If you made the stock/sauce, drizzle overtop or around and add a few drops of great Extra virgin olive oil.
- Finally, indulge. And you don't even have to worry about those pesky carbs...however, the richness makes up for it. Oh, well. A playful take. I hope you enjoy.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Savory Apples