Gourmet Thursday

As promised, my favorite “date night in” dish thus far-  Farro “Risotto” with fresh peas, roasted Hen of The Woods mushrooms, duck confit and a fresh pea shoot salad.

DSCN4036Front and center are those mushrooms-  I love the moisture level of the Hen of the Woods- because there is no mushiness- and they sear so elegantly!  I loved the sweetness of the peas (accented with a bit of thyme and a liiitle bit of meyer lemon zest)- they contrasted so well with the earthy (and garlicky) duck and the mushrooms.  Every part of the finished dish is seasoned- so it has sweet, salty, umami and crunch- and some acid from the salad.  PERFECT.  nom.

A few notes:

  • This may seem like a lot of things, and it (kind of) is-  what is more important here is the method/ flavor profile, not necessarily being exact with the toppings (duck/mushrooms).
  • This can be made vegetarian and vegan by eliminating the duck and the duck fat- and using veggie stock instead of chicken stock!
  • The duck confit was previously made- in the slow cooker!  We ended up using a mix of a few different recipes- and it came out great.  Do know that while making duck confit is EASY it does require time (and not on the same day that you are making this dish)- but you are IN LUCK- I have seen it not only at Whole Foods but a few other grocery stores- and you can definitely order it online.

This came together in about half the time of a traditional risotto!  And has more nutrients!  Once the prep work is done you are looking at about 35 minutes start to finish.


The basics- 1.5 cups of peas (or so)- we used fresh that we shelled; 3 spring onions (you can sub vidalia and some scallions to mimic that flavor if you can’t find them), a few cloves of garlic, thyme, some big hunks of Hen of the Wood mushrooms (depending on where you live these may be harder to find- sub anything that looks fresh!), chicken stock, white wine- and the meat and fat from 1 or more legs of duck confit.  Not pictured: 1 star anise pod, 1 cup of white wine, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 meyer lemon, the  and the pea shootsDSCN3991



For the onions: cut off the tops where they get super green- save those for the salad.  Small dice on the bulbs.

I used duck fat as the fat for this entire recipe.  Please feel free to use butter or oil of your choice if you don’t have duck fat.  If you do…. USE IT OMGGGGG.

DSCN3999 DSCN4000

Toast the farro with the onions and garlic until it is toasty and fragrant (just like risotto).DSCN4001

Add the wine and cook until it is entirely reduced; then add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Instead of stirring constantly, we are going to add the stock in 1 cup increments and let it bubble away, until totally absorbed- stirring only occasionally.  Add 1 star anise, 5 or so peppercorns (you know how I love the Sichuan!) and a few springs of thyme (whole).DSCN4005 DSCN4007Add more stock after the first addition has been absorbed, following the same method. You may need a third cup (I felt I did, but then felt like it was too much).

Meanwhile, get the duck ready:

Fish it out of the fat (or take it out of the package :) )- and place it into a hot pan to nicely re-sear the fat and get it all nice and warm.  The crispy duck skin will be AMAZING.  We are going to cook the mushrooms in this same pan (using some of the fat)- so be careful not to burn the duck. (the gross looking stuff is melting fat.  Ignore its lack of appetizing-ness right now and embrace that it is pure FLAVOR).



ThDSCN4013The crispy duck is going to look a bit shreddy and is definitely going to be coming off the bones.  Take it out of the pan, place it on some paper towels and set it aside!  We are not going to need all of the fat for the mushrooms, so carefully pour off a bunch (leaving the pan glistening but not teeming)- and reserve the fat.

DSCN4015 DSCN4026Meanwhile:

For the mushrooms- as you can see, I just gave them a rough chop after wiping them clean.  Heat the pan we were just using with the duck, and add the mushrooms and some thyme into the pan and DO NOT STIR.  Let them gooooooo for a bit to get them to sear and brown.

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After a few minutes, you will sense when it is time to fuss them :)  What makes these DELICIOUS is that you salt and garlic/onion them towards the end- so the flavors are HUGE (not mellow). DSCN4022Once they are brown and yummy looking, season with crunchy salt (a good pinch), turn the heat off and they can wait for the rest of dinner to get together.

Which should basically be allllmost done by now.  Back to the farro-

Add the peas-


1/4 cup of parmesan cheeseDSCN4025 DSCN4027A splish of duck fat (just as you would finish a traditional risotto with some butter)- I used less than a tablespoon (let’s say 2 teaspoons).



A good squeeze of meyer lemon to wake everything up!

lastly- the salad!  The prettier parts of the green of the onion (a couple tablespoons)DSCN4008 DSCN4009

Juice of 1/2 of a meyer lemon, and some zest-  and a bit of honey-DSCN4010 DSCN4032

All mixed up with the pea shoots.DSCN4034


At this point we have the 4 components done:

  1. Risotto with peas, finished with cheese and duck fat
  2. Duck- seared and crisp.
  3. Mushrooms, seared, seasoned and crisp
  4. Salad- assembled and ready to go

To plate- in a shallow bowl, spoon some risotto into the center.  Place some mushrooms and duck on top of the risottoDSCN4039

See?  Duck and mushrooms :)DSCN4038

Salad- “artfully” placed on top.DSCN4037

Farro Risotto with Fresh Spring Peas, Duck Confit and Seared Hen of the Woods mushrooms
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
For the Risotto
  • 1.5 cups farro
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 spring onions, bulbs diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 5 peppercorns (Sichuan)
  • 3 springs of fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons duck fat or butter
  • Juice of ½ a meyer lemon
2 Duck legs, confit. Purchased or pre-made.
For the Mushrooms:
  • 8 ounces Hen of the Woods (Maitake) mushrooms (or freshest looking mushrooms)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Spring onion, Minced
  • 1 sprig thyme
For the Salad-
  • ¼ cup slivered green parts of spring onions
  • 1 package pea shoots
  • 1 meyer lemon- zested (1 teaspoon), and juiced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
Salt and pepper (for all)
For the Risotto:
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the fat.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.
  3. Add the farro, and cook until nutty, fragrant, and brown. Add the wine and cook until 100% absorbed.
  4. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock, thyme, star anise, and peppercorns. Turn the heat to medium and allow to cook until the stock has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  5. During this time other components should be assembled.
  6. Sear the duck in a clean heavy saute pan, and allow to heat through. Remove the duck to a paper towel lined plate; pour off fat and reserve.
  7. Add mushrooms to the pan the duck was cooked in; allow to brown. Add the thyme; continue to cook until all of the mushrooms are browned.
  8. Season mushrooms with salt and add garlic and onions over low heat. Set aside.
For the salad:
  1. Place the green onion, zest,honey and juice in the bottom of a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss in pea shoots.
  2. To finish the risotto:
  3. After 2.5- 3 cups of stock have been added, the farro should be cooked but still toothsome. Add the peas, lemon, cheese, and 2 teaspoons of fat to finish the dish. Stir to incorporate the cheese and fat. Taste for salt and pepper; season. It should have a balance of salt and sweet with the acid.
To assemble: place some risotto in the bottom of a shallow bowl; top with mushrooms and some shredded duck (don't ignore some crispy skin!), and finish by piling a bit of salad on top.

Seriously delicious,  seriously impressive.  Both Mike and I agreed that we would not have hesitated to order or pay for this dish in a restaurant!  It IS a bit rich, but there are tons of great nutrients going on!DSCN4041 DSCN4040





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