Saturday, November 28, 2009


Thanksgiving time marks the beginning of the winter holiday season and with that comes holiday cooking. And with any great holiday cooking comes some planning. Oh yes, depending on what you serve and for how many people you have at your holiday dinner table there may be some leftovers.
By chance you are like me who is anything but traditional, turkey is just not going to do. For starters, it takes too long to make, it’s too big, too bland, it puts me into a catatonic state after I eat it, and finally, I am stuck with lots of leftovers. Especially when you only live with one other person, too many leftovers will get old quick. I have nothing against turkey or people who prefer turkey at the holidays. But if you would like to opt for something different then we take our holiday planning into consideration.

For Thanksgiving, we opted for a duck. Ducks are generally half the size of a turkey and often come with a premade packet of orange sauce. Before using that sauce you can add a qtr cup of orange juice & vermouth or vodka into the mix. Stir the mix and store it to cool while you prepare your duck. You can use prepackaged seasonings but if you can not find them you can make your own seasonings using white pepper, paprika, Lawry’s seasoning salt, and fresh ground pepper.

You’ll bake that duck according to its weight and internal temperature which should be around 180* when ready. Serve with sautéed mushrooms, green onions and mix with a wild rice and a side of cranberry.

Baste the orange sauce in the last ten minutes of cooking and you’ll have one memorable holiday dinner!

So now that we’ve covered our alternative to turkey and what to serve with it we are back to those leftovers. And here’s why I recommend a plan what you want to serve because unless you have a large family present you are going to be stuck with a lot of leftovers that will either bore you to death or end up in the dumpster.

Our six pound duck produced enough meat to feed four people. That left us with enough food to produce a second dinner. But why do the same thing twice? When I was a kid, if we did not have traditional Mexican tamales to off set the heavy turkey leftovers we would end up serving déjà vu of the night before and somehow it just wasn’t the same. But what do you want from leftovers? The late George Carlin had a great sketch about leftovers but you don’t necessarily have to rehash the same holiday plate that has since lost its luster. This is why when you consider any holiday bird consider the size, how many people you intend to feed, and what you plan to do with the leftover meat once the holiday is past. Hence our solution which we will call Kamotosoba (Duck with Noodles).

Cooking with duck opens possibilities. I wanted to make something Japanese with my leftover duck but opted to improvise with the items I had available on hand.

As stated in our title, this meal falls under Japanese inspired cooking. So here’s what we used:

Your leftover Duck
6 Shitake Mushrooms
2 pkg Yaki Soba Noodles
½ Onion
1 Carrot
1 tblsp Sesame Oil
1 cup Orange Sauce
Fresh ground pepper

The first thing you want to do is prepare your vegetables.

Cut the stems off the mushrooms and then cut the heads in half.
Next slice your carrots in wedges.
Then cut your onion in ¼” slices.

If you have a wok or a decent sized skillet, line your tablespoon of sesame oil to get the vegetables started.

Add your vegetables to your wok or skillet and occasionally stir while simmering. This should take no more than four minutes.

While your onions are doing their thing, slice your duck meat into smaller bite sized wedges then add them into the skillet or wok. Add pepper and stir for about two minutes. While the meat is cooking unpack the Yaki Soba noodles and add to the mix and stir for another minute.

Now if you managed to save some of the orange sauce from the night before you’re in luck!

As with any storage of sauces or liquids, evaporation can occur. To reconstitute your sauce add a ¼ cup of orange juice to your sauce and stir. This will bring life back to your sauce and remove any leftover trace of the previous night’s vermouth flavor. Once properly mixed, pour your orange sauce into the skillet or wok with the simmering meat & vegetables and stir for one minute and serve! This should serve about two to three people and will prove to be anything but the same old boring rehash of the night before.

You see, with proper planning you can have two great meals for the holiday and the day after without settling for the same old-same old. Our Kamotosoba came out very OIISHII and we hope yours will too!


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