We recently posted an interview with Chef Jonah Miller, of Huertas in NYC. This Basque-inspired restaurant has been serving pinxtos – sort of like tapas, but even more fun – since 2015. Now Chef Jonah is sharing his recipes with the rest of us in his just-published cookbook The New Spanish: Bites, Feasts and Drinks. Chef Jonah shared two of the duck recipes from the cookbook – he uses D’Artagnan Rohan Duck at Huertas – so you can make them at home for your own pinxtos party. Thanks to Chef Jonah for giving us access to these recipes. We hope they will serve you well!
Pinxtos are small bites served at bars in Basque country. They are not quite the same as tapas, but they are in the same spirit. Pinxtos derive their name from the verb “pinchar” – to pierce – as they usually have a toothpick stuck through to pin them to a slice of bread. But not always …
Pato a la Sevillana – Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Sherry Sauce
This is a perfect example of a common approach of ours—discovering an old school recipe in a dated Spanish cookbook and using that to create something new. Historically, pato a la sevillana is a heavy braised stew. We use many of the same components to build an intense sauce that complements the crispy-skinned, blushing medium-rare duck breast.
We like to serve the sautéed Catalan greens used for stuffing the Piquillos Rellenos alongside this duck.
For the sauce:
1 red onion
1 fennel bulb
1 carrot, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cups amontillado sherry
3/4 cup dry red wine
4 cups duck stock or chicken stock
4 tablespoons PX sherry vinegar or other aged sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
20 Manzanilla olives, pitted
12 Pickled Pearl Onions
12 cloves Garlic Confit
2 boneless duck breasts, trimmed of excess fat and lightly scored
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
To make the sauce, cut the onion, fennel, and carrot into large (about 1-inch) chunks. In a large pot over high heat, combine the olive oil, onion, fennel, carrot, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring a few times to get deep, fast caramelization. Add the thyme, peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the sherry wine and red wine and deglaze the pot, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and reduce the wines to about 1/2 cup. Add the stock, return to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm; you’ll finish the sauce after the duck is cooked.
Season the duck breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Choose a heavy-bottomed sauté pan large enough to hold the breasts without crowding. Place the pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Arrange the duck breasts in the pan, skin-side down. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Note: You are not looking for any sizzle, or much of a reaction at all—the pan should be barely warm so that the duck fat has time to render out as the skin slowly crisps. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, periodically peeking at the skin to make sure it’s browning evenly. After 15 minutes, the skin should be crispy and golden. Flip the breasts and add the thyme and garlic to the pan. Cook on the flesh side until slightly browned, about 3 more minutes. If you gently squeeze the sides of the duck you should meet some resistance, but the texture should not be firm. The internal temperature should read 130˚F-135˚F and will carry over a few more degrees while it rests.
Transfer the duck to a plate to rest. Let it rest for about 8 minutes. Move to a cutting board and cut as you please—we like to slice across the width of the breast on a slight bias into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
When ready to serve, gently rewarm the sauce and stir in the butter and any juices that have collected on the plate that the duck was on. As the butter melts, add the olives, pearl onions, and duck confit. Arrange the duck slices on 4 plates, spoon the sauce over, and serve immediately.
Croquetas de Pato – Duck Croquettes
Makes about thirty-five 1-inch round croquetas
A true crowd-pleaser! Bechamel-based croquettes are a staple throughout Spain, but I was reluctant to put them on our menu. I viewed them as, well, junk-food—the macaroni and cheese of pintxos, something that is satisfying because of fattiness rather than flavor. But then we put duck breast on the menu, and so we needed to find a use for the accompanying legs, fat, and bones. We ended up developing a recipe that elevated croquetas, the “chicken fingers of Spain,” to a different level. This sophisticated version replaces some of the butter with duck fat, some of the milk with duck stock, and the legs, made into confit, are folded into the mix.
Note the trick to breading these croquettes in the final step: Because the balls are gooey and nearly liquid inside after they’re fried in the hot oil, it’s crucial to create a strong crust. Accordingly, instead of a typical three-step breading process that uses flour plus eggs plus crumbs, we bread them with crumbs, then eggs, then more crumbs.
For the duck croqueta base:
1 1/2 cups duck stock (sub chicken stock)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons duck fat
1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 confited duck legs, finely shredded
3 cups plain dried breadcrumbs
3 large eggs
Canola oil for frying
To make the croquette batter, in a saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the duck stock and milk together. Bring to a bare simmer. While the milk and stock heat, pull the duck confit meat off the bones, transfer to a food processor, and pulse until finely shredded. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter and duck fat. Add the onion and garlic and let them sweat, stirring occasionally. When they are starting to soften but have not yet taken on color, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the warm stock mixture to the skillet. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until the batter starts to thicken. Add the reserved duck confit and cook, stirring, until the duck meat is warm and evenly dispersed—about 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a heatproof tray or dish and let cool. (At this point the croquette mixture will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Don’t cover until the mixture is cool, otherwise, the steam and condensation will affect the texture.)
Once cooled, scoop up large pinches of the croquette mixture and roll between your palms into balls about 1 inch in diameter. It helps to either wet your hands with water or grease them with a bit of olive oil so the mixture doesn’t stick. (An even easier way to get uniform croquettes is to use a small ice-cream scoop.) Place the balls on a baking sheet as you work. When all of the mixture is rolled, transfer the tray to the fridge for about 30 minutes (or the freezer for about 10 minutes) to help set the shape.
While your croquetas are setting, set up 2 large, shallow bowls. Pour the bread crumbs into one and beat the eggs in the other. Working with about 5 croquettes at a time, toss them first in the breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly, then transfer to the beaten eggs and turn to coat thoroughly. Using a fork or slotted spoon, transfer them back to the breadcrumbs. Roll them around gently to cover completely in a second layer of crumbs, then place on a clean baking sheet. Repeat until all the croquettes are coated. (At this point, they will keep, tightly covered in your fridge, for up to 3 days; or freeze carefully, without them sticking together, for up to 3 months.)
When you are ready to serve, pour canola oil to a depth of at least 4 inches into a deep fryer or 4-quart pot and heat over medium-high heat to 375°F. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully add a handful of croquettes to the hot oil, being sure not to crowd the pot, and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and season with salt while still hot. Repeat to fry the remaining croquetas.
Serve hot. No sauce necessary—you’ll see!
To make different types of croquetas, simply replace the duck fat with butter and the duck stock and duck meat with a combination of your choosing, such as:
- Chicken stock and ground jamón
- Chicken stock and shredded chicken (and maybe add some minced jalapeños!)
- Shrimp stock or fish stock and minced shrimp
- Fish stock and flaked salt cod
- Mushroom stock and sautéed mushrooms