Why let chicken have all the spicy fun? This recipe, a new spin on Nashville hot chicken, was created by Marylou Tate, chef and culinary arts professor at Nashville State Community College in Nashville, Tenn. Her Nashville Hot Duck was a finalist in this year’s Maple Leaf Farms Chef Recipe Contest. This legendary dish, which traditionally features chicken, has been intriguing, burning and winning over thrill-seeking diners all over the country. Now it’s duck’s time to shine, lending a deeper, fattier component to the mix. And even better, this version is served over a hoecake and topped with pickled okra.
Nashville Hot Duck
YIELD: 4 Servings
For fried duck:
2 duck breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz. buttermilk
1 oz. hot sauce
1 quart oil for frying
2 oz. all-purpose flour
2 tsps. cayenne pepper, divided
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3 oz. all-purpose flour
3 oz. cornmeal
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. buttermilk
1 oz. butter, melted and cooled
crisp duck skins, from fried duck recipe
4 oz. butter, for frying
For pickled okra:
4 oz. okra
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 oz. water
4 oz. apple cider vinegar
1. For fried duck: Remove skin from duck breast; reserve skin. Clean any fat or sinew from meat.
2. Cut each breast into six equal pieces and season with salt and pepper.
3. In nonreactive bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Add duck pieces and dip to coat. Refrigerate until ready to fry, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place piece of parchment on half sheet pan and place skins on it, smoothing to make as flat as possible. Top skins with additional sheet of parchment and then additional sheet pan. Bake until crisp, approximately 1 hour; start checking after 30 minutes.
5. When skins are crisp, remove to paper to drain, and reserve rendered fat. Cut rendered skins into small dice and reserve for use in hoecakes.
6. In heavy pot, place approximately 2 inches of oil and thermometer. Over medium heat, bring oil to 350°F.
7. Whisk egg and add to buttermilk and duck mixture. In separate bowl, combine flour, 1 tsp. of cayenne and a dash of salt and pepper.
8. Remove duck pieces from buttermilk and toss in flour to coat.
9. Fry duck pieces, a couple at a time, until crispy on outside and meat temperature on inside is approximately 150°F. Remove from oil and set aside to drain.
10. While duck is frying, take reserved rendered duck fat and heat until small bubbles form on edges of pan. Add remaining teaspoon of cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Stir to combine. If mixture is too thick, take a couple of tablespoons from frying oil.
11. Add fried duck pieces into fat mixture and toss to coat.
12. For hoecakes (12 cakes): In bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Add egg, buttermilk and cooled butter. Mix to combine. Fold in diced crisp duck skin.
13. Heat 1 tsp. of butter in heavy skillet or flattop. Drop mixture into hot skillet, creating half dollar-size cakes. Fry until crispy and brown, and then flip and repeat on other side.
14. Remove to paper-lined tray. Repeat with remaining batter, adding butter as needed. Hold for service.
15. For pickled okra (24 slices): Cut okra into 1/2-inch slices and toss with 1 Tbsp. of salt. Let sit in colander over bowl to drain for approximately 20 minutes.
16. Combine remaining ingredients in nonreactive pan and bring to boil. Strain and return liquid to pan; return to a boil.
17. Rinse okra to remove salt and any slime that has accumulated.
18. Place okra in bowl and add hot liquid. Let cool. Can be used after 30 minutes or held in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
19. To plate: Place piece of duck on hoecake and top with couple of pieces of pickled okra. Serve three to an order.
Recipe: Marylou Tate/Maple Leaf Farms