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My Thursday Thing: Duck, Duck, Rice

Today's post is a double whammy! Not only is it My Thursday Thing for the week, but it's also my February '19 Cooking Challenge recipe. This month marked the re-launch of the He Can Cook "Cooking Challenges". With it came a move to monthly, rather than weekly, challenges, and I opened the competition up to all genders, rather than just men. And while I didn't see the results I had hoped for with entrants, I'll continue to push on in hopes that as my followers continue to grow, so will the number of entrants.

With all that said, this month's challenge was all about romance. After all, February is the month of Valentine's Day (and my birthday, but I digress). So I challenged the world the come up with a romantic dish. Tomorrow, once the month has officially passed, I'll announce the winner on social media, but for now, I thought I'd share my own romantic dinner that I cooked up for my wife and I (and our 13 year old daughter). And here's the real kicker, it's not an original recipe. As I've said many times, anybody can make a delish dish. It doesn't take creating a brand new masterpiece, and following a proven recipe is a great way to learn how to prepare all different kinds of ingredients.

So for my dish, I started thinking about foods I haven't made very often and that are a little more of a delicacy that we normally enjoy. I settled on duck, a luxurious, slightly gamey, only slightly expensive protein.

Roast Duck Quarters

My daughter had been asking for duck l'orange for a long, long time, and so I went on the hunt for a recipe on Pinterest until I found just one that looked simple yet delicious. I did change things up just a little bit. The recipe called for orange marmalade, but I had a jar of apricot preserves in the house so I used that instead, and instead of Cointreau, I used Grand Marnier, another orange liquor. I also used dark meat quarters, rather than just the legs, as that's what was available at the local Asian market. An hour and a half seemed like a really long time, especially compared to how long it takes to cook chicken, but I trusted the recipe and wasn't disappointed. After 90 minutes, I was left with a crispy, crackly skin and really moist duck meat. And the sauce was the perfect mix of sweet and sour.

Reduced Sweet and Sour Apricot-Orange Sauce

Instead of making the sweet potato mash it paired the duck with, I decided to make a quick coconut rice and roasted asparagus. For the rice, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it melts, add 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots (or onions) and saute about 3-4 minutes until they soften but don't brown. Add 1/2 tablespoon of ginger powder and stir for about 30 seconds, then add 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken stock, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and then add 2 cups of jasmine rice (or white long-grain rice). Bring the liquid back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan and cook, without lifting the cover, for 18-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Remove the rice from the heat and fluff it with a fork.

Coconut Rice Broth

For the asparagus, cut off the bottoms of the spears (about 1.5-2 inches), toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper, and roast on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

To plate this romantic meal, place a heaping pile of rice in the middle of the plate, prop up the duck on the rice and surround with the asparagus. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and you're all set. Then sit down and enjoy with a loved one (or two)!

What did you eat for Valentine's Day this year? Let me know in the comments below and be entered to win a He Can Cook drink coaster!

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