When I decided to form a tight group to keep things in the food blogging world above-board, I was presented with a number of challenges. Firstly, I wanted a good spread of experience. I wanted somebody with high level financial experience. I wanted some youth and enthusiasm. I definitely needed some solid legal wisdom and guidance. I needed a top team. I scoured the blogs. I took advice. Numerous candidates were analysed. Their personal lives investigated. Many were rejected (You know who you are.).
My payment for board membership was a board (of course). There were limited boards at my place and this limited the places on my board. Eventually, I settled on three stellar candidates whose blogs say all you need to know about them.
To prove their worth, each was set a small task. They had to prepare and/or present a dish, on the board, to the board (and the rest of you of course). I would never ask somebody to do something that, as Chairman, I wouldn’t do myself so I also took part. The board presentations are/were due to take place at 09:00 EST on January 23rd 2014. This to prevent any jockeying for position and one-upmanship on our exclusive board.
Board Minutes 1: As the self-appointed Chairman of the Board, I have to take full responsibility for the lack of gender and ethnic diversity on the board. My bad. No doubt, in time, we will be expanding the board and candidates will be judged, in part, by the nature of the comments left here. So don’t denigrate the Chair.
My contribution to proceedings is Hot Smoked Duck with Orange Marmalade. I have to admit that I have leaned heavily on one of my board members in that I blagged the method from a recipe by Stefan. I also used a gift, given by Stefan, to perfect the timing. I do believe that a good Chairman should take support from members of the board, don’t you?
The ingredients list is very short. For four people you will need:
- 4 duck breasts
- Juice of 3 oranges and zest of 2
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
You will also need a smoker. Mine is a €40 thing bought online. Great value.
First, cut a nice diamond pattern through the fat but not the flesh of the duck breasts.
Next, trim the excess fat from the edges of the breasts.
Wash and zest the two oranges.
Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Then rub in the orange zest. Use about half the zest on this.
Transfer to a plate, cover and pop these in the fridge for a few hours.
Board Minutes 2: As I write this, I don’t know what Nick, Stefan and Richard have planned. I do know that they are all very competitive and will be doing their best to be the outstanding board member in this little test. Getting the best out of one’s Board is part of a Chairman’s responsibilities, IMHO, as they say on Twitter.
In the time available, spend some time reading the minutes of meetings, drink some brandy and smoke a cigar or two. It’s what Chairmen do, I believe. I used some of my time preparing some sweet potato chips. I also thought I should prepare some green beans. They go nicely with duck.
Time for a gratuitous duck breast and meat probe shot.
Place the duck breasts in the smoker. Place your meat probe into the centre of one of the breasts (You all have meat probes, don’t you?)
Set the alarm to 55º C. Smoke them outside until the alarm scares the neighbours overly curious cat away from the smoker. Wrap the breasts in tinfoil and leave them for 10 minutes.
Use the next 10 minutes to prepare the orange marmalade. This involves adding the sugar, remaining zest and orange juice to a pot.
Heat this mixture. Evaporate a lot of the water to intensify the flavour. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if it is too sweet.
If you are cooking the sweet potatoes, they will have been in the oven for 15 minutes at 200º C.
Take the duck breasts out of the tin foil and slice them like in the picture.
Quickly wash the board. Turn it over and serve on the unblemished side. “Best side out.” as we have got used to saying here in Ireland over the past few years.
The smokey duck really wanted lots of the delicious marmalade. The whole thing worked particularly well. The wine was an Australian blend with lots of fruit. Perfect with this.
No matter which of the board posts you deem most worthy, this has been great fun for me and this smoked orange duck has been a revelation. Three of us sat down to eat that evening. We had the fourth breast cold the following day. It was even tastier. This is a permanent fixture on the menu, for as long as I remain Chairman of the Board.
Board Minutes 3: The chopping boards are walnut. They are made by my friend Terry who crafts them by hand in his Wicklow workshop. I don’t do commercial promotion here but, you will forgive the link to Terry’s site. He’s a nice chap.