My “last summer ever” is going pretty dang well. I still have about one week until my internship begins, LA has not yet gotten disgustingly warm, and I’ve gone on a bit of a necessary shopping spree. I also converted Jonji to one of my favorite nerdy book series, which means I now get to hear the audiobook as a refresher. All good things down here. Oh, and I apologize for the lack of photos this week—apparently I need to be a little more active in that department.
My first order of business once we came back from our trip home was to go to Marshall’s for some work-and-sweat-friendly attire. I know that I cannot completely escape the boggy heat that will undoubtedly accompany many of my drives to Still Room, but you can be sure I will do my best to lessen its impact. As an aside: if you’ve never been to Marshall’s in LA, you probably don’t think the stores are that cool. Just know that the ones down here are the very best, and I enjoy a few of the most exciting hours of the year when I decide to go. Although, it’s probably that much more exciting for someone who never goes shopping, like me.
This past weekend Jonji and I drove down to San Diego for our friends Todd and Jessica’s engagement party. We endured some pretty terrible traffic on the way down, Jonji fretting about being late while I benefitted from enduring years of “O’Regan lateness” that has clearly dulled my ability to feel stressed when running late. We finally made it to Todd’s parents’ house in Carlsbad, and joined in the celebration. After a dinner of tacos, during which Jonji tried to out-eat everyone by taking down nine tacos, and plenty of margaritas, we found ourselves sitting around the fire in the courtyard along with our friends Dan, Tiff, Todd, Jessica, Katelyn, and several others around our age. We talked and laughed until close to midnight, and then everyone either left or went to bed (we, along with a few others, stayed at Todd’s parents’).
The next day we woke up and had breakfast with our friends and their families, and then parted ways. Jonji and I drove home listening to The Way of Kings (my nerdy book that Jonji’s now addicted to). I got a terrible headache from a lack of coffee, and spent the rest of the day battling with that.
On Monday I acted like a real adult and dealt with the reality of spending lots of money. I had held off buying a new laptop for a long time, thinking I could wait until I at least graduated from school, but I ended up having to get one. If you enjoy waiting 15 minutes for an Adobe program to open and then witnessing the slowest app function you’ve ever seen, feel free to have my old computer. Since large programs are really all I use as a designer, I was forced to invest in a faster machine. Plus, I figured my co-workers at Still Room probably wouldn’t appreciate the long wait for me to get work done either. Knowing my luck, I couldn’t get my old Mac to transfer to the new one once I’d gotten home, and so spent most of the afternoon talking to Apple support as I attempted to transfer files. Finally, victory was mine, and I now write this post on my lovely new laptop.
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe in My Paris Kitchen (a truly wonderful book, by the way), with just a couple of tweaks. It’s one of my favorites but, unfortunately, one I don’t get to make very often because Jonji isn’t a big duck fan. Therefore, this has become my special treat whenever he happens to be out of town. If you like your meat on the drier side (meaning, not a lot of fat), this one may not be for you either. That being said, I encourage you to try it. This dish supports the “quality, not quantity” ideal that Americans are so often at odds with. The duck legs are tender and rich, plus the whole thing requires a minimal amount of effort to make. Pair with other dishes that aren’t so rich so as to balance out the meal (I like to serve mine with simple potatoes for soaking up the extra juices, along with a fresh vegetable dish).
Quick Duck Confit*
4 duck thighs (legs attached)
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine or gin
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and cut in half
2 dried or fresh bay leaves
Prick the thighs all over with a sharp knife. Whisk the salt, wine or gin, nutmeg, and allspice in a medium baking dish or pan (one that will fit the thighs very snugly). Place the legs in the dish, then rub them all over with the spice mixture. Leave them skin side down, then place the bay leaves and garlic beneath the legs. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight if you want to prepare ahead.
Turn the duck legs over so that the skin is facing up. Place the dish in the cold oven, then turn the oven on to 300°F. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting the legs with their juices a couple of times. Finally, turn the oven up to 375°F and bake for another 10–20 minutes, until the skin is crisped to your liking. Enjoy!
*This is not true confit, which is actually something slowly cooked in fat at a low temperature in order to better preserve it. Here we’re speeding up the process by cooking at a slightly higher temperature, but still getting the same depth of flavor as a true confit.