09 April 2011

Lunches of duck and okra

High temperature records were broken in different parts of France yesterday. Some places had highs of 30ºC, which is 86ºF. Here in Saint-Aignan, our thermometer showed about 72ºF, but it reads low. It was a little cooler than the day before, but the temperature up in the loft still managed to hit 77.

Here's some food porn. This week has been busy, but we've been cooking anyway. Last year we bought a little electric grill to cook on, and we set it up on the front terrace this week, for the season.

A duck breast fillet cooking on the electric grill — it's good
to score the skin of the duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern
with a sharp knife to keep the filet from curling as it cooks.

The cooking you do on such a contraption can't really be called grilling, or at least not barbecuing, but it is handy and it keeps the heat out of the kitchen. What we grilled this week, among other things, was a nice duck breast. I had bought three of them as a package deal, and I'm using one to make duck breast prosciutto. That's a three-week process, and the meat is curing in the fridge right now.

A cold appetizer of thinly sliced duck breast meat

Meantime, we decided to grill one of the other two duck breast filets. I don't know if you eat duck, but if you do maybe you know that the breast meat is cooked rare, like good steak. It resembles beefsteak in color, texture, and taste. We ate a good portion of the duck breast we cooked while it was still hot, but there was some left over. A day or two later, that little piece cut into thin slices made a nice cold appetizer.

In Blois on Wednesday I found fresh okra (gombos in French) in an Asian grocery store in the old part of town. I had to buy some, because I find fresh okra so rarely. When we got home, I decided to cook it quickly to go with the grilled duck breast.

Cooking okra as a quick stir fry...

"Okra and tomatoes" is a classic combination (at least in the U.S. South) but it's not tomato season. I could have used frozen or tinned tomatoes, but I wanted something I could make more quickly. We were having a late lunch after our shopping trip in Blois and environs, and we were both starving. It doesn't take long to grill a duck breast.

...with a hot, sweet, and slightly vinegary chilli sauce

I sliced up the okra pods, stir-fried them in oil in a wok, and seasoned them with Sweet Chilli Sauce from a jar that we had in the refrigerator. To that I added about a teaspoon of a very hot habañero sauce and a tablespoon of distilled vinegar. It was brightly colored and very tasty. The chilli sauce was thickened slightly by the okra's natural juices (wink, wink).

In the fridge right now I have some big wide Italian flat green beans — called cocos plats in French — that I think I might cook the same way today.


  1. That mixture of duck breast, gherkins and okras looks fabulous. I wish I were there. Getting closer though!

    Word verification is pleur as in, j'ai versé un pleur de ne pas être de la partie! LOL

  2. oh that duck breast looks fabulous......they just aren't readily available here.....even at the oriental grocery, I can get cheap duck legs but no breasts...the one time I found them, they were very pricey.....

  3. Mmmm, a beautiful, perfectly cooked duck breast! One of the world's great foods. We used to get those as often as possible on our trips to France, since they were hard to get in the US. But now we're easily able to get them here, and we have them as often as possible.

  4. Oh no, s_____-sauce! (nudge, nudge)

  5. The duck looks great - I love it, but rarely see it here. Maybe at Trader Joe's. Good idea to use the wok on the okra.


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