MasterChef Australia has really grown on me. The first few audition episodes were not pleasant to watch, too much drama and too much of me wondering whether Matt Preston wore the handkerchief to cover the double chin or as a fashion statement. But lately… I can’t get enough. It’s really evolved and I think an even better show than the original UK version.
I even managed to try one of the Celebrity Chef Challenge recipes which was the Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Duck Liver Ravioli where Chef Peter Evans faced off against Julia and lost! Well, I thought if she can beat him, maybe the recipe would be easy enough to follow… of course I didn’t have a time limit.
Anyway, the first step was to smoke the duck breasts which I had never done before. The process is easy enough and hassle free if you’ve got an indoor stove top smoker, otherwise you can use a wok and there are many sites on the internet that show you how.
The verdict – amazingly easy and good… given that it was a celebrity chef challenge – I thought it would be more difficult to make. But the hardest part was really going to the grocery three times because I never make a list when shopping for ingredients – and tend to forget something… with a shopping list as long as the one above – three trips were eventually necessary!
2 duck breast
25g water chestnuts, diced
25g pear, diced
4 gow gee or wonton wrappers or thin pasta sheets
¼ cup (60ml) blood orange sauce – recipe to follow
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons julienned ginger
Tea Smoking Mixture
½ cup oolong tea leaves
½ cup jasmine tea leaves
Zest of 3 oranges
4 pieces of dried orange peel
1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup of brown sugar
5 star anise
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 pieces cassia bark
60g caster sugar
¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
2 cups (500ml) blood orange juice or orange juice
1 cup (250ml) Peking duck stock or chicken stock
Zest of 1 orange
50g of butter, diced
1. For the orange sauce, place sugar in a cold pan and melt it down slowly (careful not to burn). Then add vinegar and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add orange juice and reduce by half. Then add the stock and reduce by half.
2. Add zest and blend the sauce with the butter and seasoning.
3. For tea smoking mixture, combine ingredients in a bowl.
4. Line a wok with foil then place the smoking mix on top and turn on the heat to medium and wait for it to start to smoke. OR If you are fortunate enough to have an indoor stovetop smoker – place the tea smoking mixture on the bottom of the smoker, cover with the drip tray, top with the rack and place the duck on top of the rack then cover. I used a medium heat for 8 minutes. Came out perfect.
5. To make the ravioli, mix the pâté, water chestnuts and pear together with a touch of salt. Lay 2 gow gee wrappers on the bench and brush with water, place 2 mounds of the pâté mix in the center of the gow gee wrappers and place the top gow gee wrappers over the mound and press down firmly around the edges to seal so you have 2 ravioli.
6. Place the duck skin side down in a frying pan and cook until fat has rendered and skin is crispy and let rest for a few minutes in a warm spot and then slice.
7. Add spinach (Gai Lan would be nice too!) to same pan and cook until just wilted, season with some sea salt and pepper and then drain any excess liquid out of the spinach in a strainer. Then drop the ravioli in a pot of boiling water to cook for 1 minute.
8. Pour vegetable oil into a small frying pan until one quarter full. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Deep-fry ginger for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Set aside.
9. Heat up the orange sauce.
10. To serve, place the spinach on plate, then top with the sliced duck, the ravioli, drizzle a tablespoon of sauce over the ravioli and duck and top with the fried ginger.
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