After making such a big deal about brainstorming for our Christmas dinner, it didn't feel right to not follow up and at least share what we ended up eating. By the time we went grocery shopping for the meal, we were still largely undecided about the menu, but as is often the case here in Kenya, the market ended up dictating what we were to eat. A trip to the local butcher introduced us to some very attractive looking Kenyan ducks, one of which we decided to bring home with us. The grocer boasted bags of bokchoy that were so beautiful it seemed like a crime to leave them out and as fresh cranberries were still on hand, a spiced sauce was to be in order. In this way, our Christmas menu more or less fell into place.
In the end, we enjoyed a meal that I dare say we were quite proud of. But as it turned out, the most extraordinary thing about it was that it kept going, reincarnating itself for days to come and giving new meaning to the idea of leftovers.
In all honesty, we didn't make a true risotto... as in we didn't start with raw arborio rice nor did we steep and cook the rice in duck stock. But that's not to say that we couldn't have if we wanted to... it was just that we happened to have lots of left over rice and chicken stock that needed to be employed. So we threw in some frozen green peas and grated pecorino romano alongside the rest of the duck meat for a very quick and dirty duck "risotto." It was certainly enough to make any purist gawk in horror but for a pair of sluggish cooks coming off an exhausting day of cooking, it was perfect.
Left with just the bones, T decided to extract yet another meal from our duck by making a broth. Twenty minutes in the pressure cooker with a handful of diced carrots, celery, and onions yielded a thick and flavorful broth, the likes of which we had only seen when enjoying a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen... which is precisely what we then strove to recreate. As all of the duck meat had already been consumed, T employed the pressure cooker yet again to cook up some pork in a soy and ginger based marinade. Meanwhile, we added shiitake mushrooms and green onions to the broth and soft boiled a pair of eggs. After some final assembly, we sat down to one of the most authentic tasting bowls of homemade ramen that we've ever had the pleasure of confronting.
When we decided to buy our duck on the spur of the moment last week, I never would have guessed that it would provide for so many varied meals. Not that we were necessarily on a tight budget, but I must admit that I felt an immense sense of accomplishment having gotten so much bang for our buck. It has in some ways, opened my eyes to another approach to cooking that I suppose is somewhat antiquated these days. Now that we can go to the supermarket and pick up just the parts we need, one hardly ever has to come up with uses for an entire pig or cow. And having enjoyed a relatively middle class and modern upbringing, dining on a budget usually called for instant ramen and fast food, not devising ways of getting three meals out of one duck. While it was quite accidental, I am thankful that it was creativity and not desperation that helped our duck last as long as it did.
Photo credits for Duck Risotto and Duck Ramen
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread