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Duck Confit with Creamy Corn Polenta and Blackberry Marmalade

December 27, 2010

December 26 – Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

Oh yes, I did.

I went to Atlanta for a grantee meeting and we got to stay at the Palomar in Midtown, a lovely boutique hotel. I do not usually get to stay in boutique hotels. I usually get to stay in shitty hotels (one time, I stayed in a hotel that had a meth lab on the first floor and ants in the beds – and another time I stayed in one that the cable had to warm up for about 10 minutes before it came on.)

So the Palomar has a great restaurant, Pacci – and one night I was supposed to go to dinner with a friend, but plans fell through so I went to Pacci and sat at the bar. I ordered a vodka tonic and two appetizers – beef carpaccio and duck confit with creamy corn polenta and blackberry marmalade.

Oh. My. God.

I had never had beef carpaccio, but I had been wanting to try it.  Kobe beef, tapenade, shaved parmesan, a little bitter salad…wow. I was proud of myself for ordering something risky, for eating raw beef (RAW BEEF!) and for savoring every delicious bite.

And then. Then, the duck came.

I love duck, but I very rarely get to have it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from confit – I didn’t think it would be crispy, for some reason – but it was. It was perfectly crispy. And it was served over an amazing creamy polenta with corn and gorgonzola, with a little blackberry marmalade on the side.

And that, ladies and gentleman, was the stuff. It cut through the richness of the duck and the silky polenta, and it lended a little sweet-tart bite to the barely-there gaminess of the duck.

It was the most amazing thing. It taught me a lot about point-counterpoint in cooking – and I could feel the flavors and textures hitting different places on my tongue and appealing to different cravings and giving me  a little something I didn’t expect.

This dish gave me a burgeoning appreciation for balance, and contrast, and the dance that textures and flavors do in a really great dish – something I hope will creep into my cooking as I continue to explore the wonderful, amazing, freaky world of cooking and magic and love.

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