I really enjoy cooking duck, especially this time of the year. The most flavorful preparation takes advantage of it’s rich fat, along with fresh herb and aromatics. This recipe is simple, yet impressive for any holiday gathering. It is also versatile! Just swap out any higher-fat protein; for chicken I would recommend legs and thighs, for pork, use a butt cut, and for beef, use the tongue, rib or brisket.

Serves 4

Duck Confit:
4 duck thighs and 4 duck legs
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 springs of fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves, peeled, clove
1 tsp whole black peppercorn
2 shallots, julienned
64 oz duck fat or canola oil

Herb Mushrooms:
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon chive, fresh, minced
1 teaspoon, thyme leaves, fresh
Kosher Salt To-Taste

Squash Puree:
8 oz butternut squash peeled and seeded
Kosher Salt To-Taste

Red Wine Demi:
8 oz beef demi
4 oz Pinot Noir, or your favorite Red Wine
2 Tablespoon butter

Season the duck thigh and leg with salt and pepper, place in a sauce pot. Add in the rest of the ingredients for the confit into the sauce pot. Put the heat onto low and let cook for about 4 hours; or until the meat falls off the bone.

When the meat falls off the bone, remove from the oil and pull off the bone. Set the meat aside and discard the oil unless you are doing another confit batch. The oil can be used twice.

In a hot sauté pan add oil and add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown about 3-5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and herbs and let reduce by half until coats the back of the spoon.

For the puree, boil the squash until it is fork tender. Remove from the water and put the squash into a food processor. Blend until smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a hot sauce pan add the red wine and reduce by half to 2/3. Then add the demi-glace and stir in the butter over low heat.

Take a spoonful of the squash puree and put on the far side of the plate and drag the spoon through the puree. On top of the puree, add the hot pulled duck meat (might need to sauté it before plating it up). On top of the duck cover with the creamy herb mushrooms. Drizzle the duck and around the plate with the red wine demi.

Kyle Pafford is the Executive Chef at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community.