Turmeric Duck Confit + Crispy Rice (Tahdig)
In honor of Nooroz (Persian New Year), I created an ode to my favorite Persian family. When I moved to Los Angeles, the Farahniks welcomed me into their home time and time again for weekly Shabbat. They treated me like family (especially comforting as my family had just moved back to India), and stuffed me with the most delicious food week after week. Family gatherings at the Farahniks were so comforting and familiar - heaps of extended family arriving bearing their signature dishes; Mama Farahnik, Debbie, glamorously putting the finishing touches on every plate; cousins, aunts, uncles, all greeting each other with hugs and kisses, as if they hadn't seen each other in ages - but truly, they saw each other the week before for Shabbat. The food was bountiful - orange chicken with carrots, ghormeh sabzi (herb stew) that reminds me so much of Indian saag, and the most delectable of dishes: rice with tahdig, the golden-brown, crisped rice crust of a beautiful bowl of aromatic rice.
I must confess, my first take on tahdig was not a success - a sad, lightly golden, inch long piece of crisped rice does not a tahdig make. On this second try, there was a gorgeous crisped layer! This time, I only had three others to fight over the last piece of tahdig with - I didn't have an entire extended family to sneak my way past ;)
I threw some additional ingredients like golden raisins and pistachios into this saffron rice (for sweetness and texture), and paired the rice with a turmeric-berebere duck confit. The duck confit blends french cooking style with Indian and African spices, and is absolutely delicious with this Persian rice. I love bringing all these cultures to the table in one go!
This duo of rice and duck is perfect for a weekend dinner party - expect about 30 minutes of active time for each, but the rest is hands off! Enjoy! There is a boatload of unique flavors packed into these recipes.
jeweled rice ingredients
2 cups rice
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped dill
1 tbsp saffron
1 cup water
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup golden raisins
duck confit ingredients
6 duck legs
2 tbsp kosher salt
6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp berebere (ethiopian spice blend)
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp chopped thyme
5-6 cups duck fat (enough to cover duck legs in a dutch oven)
Run 2 cups of rice under cold running water in a fine-mesh sieve, agitating rice with your hands until water runs clear. (It will appear very white at first). Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes.
While the rice is soaking, chop cilantro, dill, and parsley. Chop saffron very fine, and combine with 1 cup of boiling water. Coarsley chop pistachio with a knife . After water/saffron combination has cooled, mix 1/2 cup with 1/2 cup yogurt.
Fill a dutch oven about halfway with water and 2 tbsp of salt. Bring to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and run under cold water one last time. Parboil the rice by placing in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until al dente. The center should not be hard, but the rice should still be quite firm. Drain the rice and set aside.
Wipe out the dutch oven. Place 2-3 tbsp of grapeseed oil in the bottom of the dutch oven, until bottom is covered. Heat over med-high. Swirl the pot around so the grapeseed oil coats the sides and the bottom. As soon as you've done that, place the first layer of rice in (about 1/3rd of your rice). Layer with 1/3rd of the herbs, pistachios, and golden raisins, and then drizzle with saffron/yogurt mixture. Repeat until you've run out of ingredients! Mine had three layers ultimately. Do this all quite fast. After you've finished layering, cover the pot and turn to low. Cook for 40 minutes.
When finished, use a knife to release the rice around the sides of the pot. Flip onto a serving platter - you should have a cylinder of rice with a beautiful crisped crust!
The evening prior, cure your duck legs with the spice combination above (salt, sugar, berebere, turmeric, and orange zest). Simply rub the blend onto the legs, place on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 10 hours.
Preheat oven to 200. The next day, remove the duck legs and wash the spice mixture off. Dry the legs and let come to room temperature. At the same time, gently warm 6 cups of duck fat over low heat. Place the legs in the dutch oven in a single layer with 4-6 thyme sprigs and a few bay leaves, and bring the heat up to medium. Cover the top of the fat with wax paper or parchment paper, with several small holes cut out of it. When you see some gentle bubbles through the wax or parchment paper, cover the dutch oven with the top and place in the oven. Cook for 4.5 hours.
Remove duck legs from fat right before serving, and sear skin in a cast-iron skillet over med-high heat. Serve with jeweled rice.