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Rich Torrisi takes a duck that he dry aged for 30 days and cooks it in a 1000 degree rotisserie.
"Once you cook aged duck you won't go back to fresh" states chef Rich Torrisi of Dirty French unequivocally. He has spent the better part of a year perfecting his duck a l'orange recipe and has resorted to dry aging them himself, because he's convinced that it significantly enhances the finished product. Guests in the swank Ludlow Hotel probably don't realize that at any given time there are 250 ducks dry aging in one of seven special refrigerators that Torrisi installed in a special room. "I go a bare minimum of 21, but I like to go to 30 days whenever possible" says the chef of the aging period. The effect is the same as that of aging beef: moisture is driven out, fortifying the flavor, while meanwhile the flesh tenderizes. As with beef, the duck can lose up to 30% of its weight during the aging period, so Torrisi opts for large ducks, weighing as much as six and a half pounds, to insure that he doesn't end up "with squab."
After aging, the meat gets seared at 1000 degrees, thanks to a rotisserie oven. "I realized I couldn't use direct heat" says Torrisi, because such methods tend to "hammer the meat," despite the producing a crisp skin. He references Peking duck as an example. Torrisi wanted to achieve the crisp skin of the famous dish but also wanted to ensure that the meat "holds up its part of the bargain." To achieve this he found that the pulsing, undulating heat of the rotisserie suited his needs perfectly — he likens the cooking process to massaging the meat with heat. The on and off nature of the cooking, as the duck rotates in and out of the heat, allows the skin to become crisp while the meat develops the "silky and luscious mouthfeel" Torrisi is after. There was one final piece to the puzzle, however. He discovered that shocking the bird in a 35° refrigerator after cooking allowed the skin to remain crisp and the meat to not over cook. The residual heat from the rotisserie continued to cook the birds out of the oven, but by shocking them they come out a perfect medium rare.
The sauces that Torrisi chose to pair with the duck reference a diverse set of culinary influences. While the dish is ostensibly a classic a l'orange, and imbued with what the chef describes as a "kaleidoscope of orange flavors," it is also seasoned with a house blend of ras el hanout, the North African spice blend, and garnished with chive buds, a nod to his love of the Chinese dish duck with flowering chives.
Original Article from New York Eater. Author: Nick Solares