When the duck hits the pan, it immediately releases a sour, musty odor that fills the nostrils — and the whole house for that matter. It sizzles, and you wait for River & Glen’s duck prosciutto to crisp up. Upon reaching the perfect temperature, the crispy duck is whisked away to a waiting dish and paper towel to drain. But what’s left in the pan…well that’s what elevates a simple frozen dessert into a savory plate.
I said I would do it. I promised I would do it. I even threatened I would do it. And now, I have done it. I embarked on a journey to blend the lines between convention and just plain strange, armed with duck prosciutto, wild cherries and roasted pistachios. Here you have it, my report on duck ice cream.
375 ml half & half
375 ml heavy cream
125 g chopped roasted pistachios
125 g chopped Amarena cherries
125 g sugar
70 g River & Glen duck breast proscuitto
4 large egg yolks
2.5 ml vanilla extract
I added a mixture of half & half and heavy cream (half of the required cream) to the duck fat that remained in the pan. The mixture was then cooked over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then, I took it off the heat and added most of the chopped roasted pistachios (I prefer salted for this recipe) and Amarena cherries, whisking in fresh thyme. (I reserved a few of the cherries and pistchios to add at the end.) After a 20 minute-steep, I ran everything through a fine mesh sieve and the mixture was back in the pan.
In a separate bowl, I made a custard of the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and the rest of the cream. Then some of the warm duck mixture was added — slowly. The reason for this is to temper the egg yolks so that they do not scramble when added to the warm mixture. The custard was then poured back into the pan – again, slowly — and cooked until it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (it left a clear trail when a finger was drawn through it). Another strain into a fresh metal bowl, which was placed inside a larger bowl partially filled with water and ice. A little more stirring until the custard was cool. Then, I brought out the plastic wrap, which I pressed directly onto the custard to prevent the formation of a skin. And we both chilled for a few hours.
Enough time had passed and I froze the custard in my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for 25 minutes. During the last five minutes of freezing, I added a few more pistachios, chopped Fabri cherries, and crumbled crispy duck back to give the custard additional texture and flavor. I transferred the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and froze it until firm.
The result: a delicious foray into the realm of weird. The ice cream meets your tongue with a sweet richness reinforced by duck fat and pistachio. The mid palate is a mingling of duck, sweet cherry, and toasted nut — reminiscent of a fine rillette. And the finish… well, it’s all duck, Baby. Good and lasting, too. Long after the cream has melted away, you are left to chew on the lingering bits of prosciutto.