For our November 2018 “Feast Around the World” feature, we asked five of the state’s top chefs to create festive meals to serve this season. What we got was a cornucopia of global flavors.
Steve McHugh, who opened Cured in San Antonio five years ago, created a feast built on memories from his days in Wisconsin and New Orleans but uses native ingredients for a true Texas twist. Below, find the centerpiece of McHugh’s “Hunting and Gathering” feast.
Vanilla Roast Duck With Pecan Cornbread Dressing
- 3 brining bags
- butcher’s twine
- 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pan Cornbread, crumbled
- 2½ cups light brown sugar
- 2½ cups kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 5 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 4 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 whole ducks, about 4 pounds each, excess neck fat and giblets removed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan and put it in the oven.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together, then mix with the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the heated skillet and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Set aside to use in Dressing.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add apple and pecans and cook briefly, just enough to combine with the butter and onion mixture.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.
- In a large pot, add the first 6 ingredients to 2½ gallons of water and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool; refrigerate until completely chilled.
- Brine the ducks in 3 brining bags for 8 hours in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the ducks from the brine, rinse inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.
- Fill cavity of each duck with Dressing (don’t pack it too tightly; extra dressing can be baked in a pan alongside the ducks).
- Tie the legs of the ducks together with butcher’s twine and roast, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan until an internal thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh reads 180 degrees, about 1 hour (more for larger birds).
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.