As much as I appreciate and enjoy slow food, there is something to be said for luxury on the go. I like to eat well everyday, and I do indulge in luxury foods throughout the week. Often the recipes I create from whatever I have in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, are among my favorites, and generally I have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
Spontaneous luxury cooking requires having a relatively well stocked kitchen. The ingredients I almost always have on hand to enhance any meal include shallots, garlic, ginger, onions, fresh herbs, aged balsamic vinegar, black truffle oil, white truffle oil, truffle salt, pine nuts, and fleur de sel. I always have a good selection of vegetables on hand, which vary by the season. In the freezer I generally keep a supply of chicken stock and veal stock, stored in half a cup and one cup containers. Additionally I almost always have flash frozen portioned foie gras, foie gras cubes, duck legs confit, fresh duck breasts (raw), and sea scallops in the freezer. These foods can be kept in the freezer for six months or longer and are nice to have on hand for last minute luxury meals.
One of my recent quick luxury meals consisted of a bed of lentils (precooked, purchased at Trader Joe’s) with caramelized leeks, fresh thyme and a drizzle of black truffle oil, sliced smoked duck breast, and seared foie gras. It look me about 30 minutes to prepare and serve this dinner. Here’s the recipe for 2 people.
1 1/4 cups cooked lentils
3 – 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock (store bought is fine)
Sea salt (or truffle salt) and pepper
One 12-oz smoked duck breast, sliced
Two 2-0z portions flash frozen foie gras, sprinkled with salt and pepper and scored on both sides
1 teaspoon black truffle oil
a few drops of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Cook the leeks in olive oil over medium heat until the leeks are hot and starting to brown. Add chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, keeping the pan moist with chicken stock as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until leeks are golden and somewhat caramelized. Set aside.
Place the still frozen foie gras slices in a cold heavy skillet. Turn heat to medium. Cook the foie gras about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown on the outside and just set on the inside (similar to a custard).
To serve, make a bed of lentils and put the leeks directly on top of the lentils. Drizzle with black truffle oil. Place the duck breast on top of the leeks to one side and place the seared foie gras on top of the smoked duck breast. Drizzle the plate with aged balsamic vinegar.