Saturday, October 29, 2011

Girl of the Vindalost

I don't have too much excitement in my life, so yesterday I thought I'd spice things up by trying to cook a new dish: Duck Vindaloo! I studied the Bombay Palace cookbook recipe, and spent a few days gathering ingredients, including a frozen duck that I carefully unthawed over 2 days. Yesterday morning, when I got back home from my school bus route, I got started.

The recipe calls for skinning the duck and cutting the duck into 8 serving pieces. This took me nearly an hour. Duck is very hard to cut up - the bones are much stronger than chicken bones, and they're put together in an odd way. At least once the skin was off, I could see better what I was cutting into. The one other time Dean and I ever tried to cook a duck was before we were married, when we roasted one, and had no idea what we were doing. I remember him trying to carve it like a chicken, and encountering bone everywhere he tried. And as he struggled over the bird, grease was pouring off of it and overflowing the platter, until I finally yelled at him to stop because he was ruining my tablecloth!

With the help of the biggest, sharpest knife we own, I finally got the thing cut up and put it into a pot to stew with some cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. It smelled very nice when it was done, then I drained it and put it aside.

The real "vindaloo" stuff came next, and I accurately put together the spice paste with vinegar, onions and hot peppers (from our garden!) all pureed together in the blender. The grand moment for assembling the dish came, I put everything together with the duck, and then put it in the oven to cook on the slow cooking setting. This was when I made my fatal error: I put everything in an aluminum pot!.

I came back from my afternoon bus route and checked on the vindaloo. The duck was soft, but there was an odd smell coming from it...a metallic smell. I tasted it...metallic taste. Then I realized that all the vinegar had reacted with the aluminum and produced...this. I moved it to another dish to cool off, hoping things might get better when it was cooler, but actually it was worse. When I tasted a bit of duck, it was like chewing on a piece of aluminum foil.

I had to phone Dean at work and tell him, as Basil Fawlty would say, 'Duck is off', and he'd have to come up with something for supper. "Help us, Obi-Dean Kenobi; you're our only hope!" As he saw this as an invitation to fire up the barbecue and cook some steaks, he took it pretty well.

Now I'm scheming to retry this experiment, only with pork next time, because it's equally authentic and would be much easier to prepare. Only I'll get out my enamelled pot to cook it in, and not make the same error twice.


Blogger Priscilla said...

Mmmmmm Steak! Not, bad, but oh, surely there are some Indian takeaways in Canada - it's British - and well, after all, Chicken Tika Masala IS the national dish of Enlgland!
I became an addict when we lived in England and now living in Portland,(large Indian population due to Intel and other tech companies) it is just as easy to find Indian food here as there. Yea! I shop at the Indian food stores, but I've noticed lots more in regular supermarkets, too, including fresh naan bread.

10:03 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

There IS a new Indian takeout place just down the road from us, and we live way out in the south suburbs! And you're right, it's pretty much possible to find the ingredients for almost any ethnic cooking here in Ottawa - the nearest mid-East grocery story also carries a pretty full line of Indian and Chinese ingredients. I'm just one of those "Oh, I could make it just as good" types who thinks I can save money by cooking it at home. I do a really good Butter Chicken, but some things are just better when you go to a restaurant. Pasandas, for example - I just can't get the hang of that type of curry.

10:17 am  
Blogger Priscilla said...

I used to be that way, too. When my husband was alive, we loved to try exotic dishes that required special ingredients and cooking implements. What fun that was! That was then and this is now. I'm 20 years older and cook in a small kitchen in my apartment. I've given away most of my cooking equipment and ethnic dishes. I've actually grown lazy in more ways than one. I like to blame it on old age, but 66 isn't as old as it used to be. No one seems to accept that excuse anymore. So I buy frozen, ready-made and easy!

11:38 am  

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