Duck & apple cassoulet with a herby crust

Ingredients

  • 200 g dried haricot beans
  • 1 x 1.5 kg whole duck , cut into 8 pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 eating apples
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • ½ a bunch of fresh thyme
  • 100 ml Somerset cider , (cloudy, richer farmhouse style)
  • 1 litre organic chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • CRUMB TOPPING
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 100 g stale bread

Method

  1. The night before you want to make this cassoulet, tip the beans into a bowl and cover with 600ml of water. Leave to soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3. Season the duck with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Place a large ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat, add the duck and sear all over. Cook, skin-side down, for 5 minutes, or until lovely and golden.
  4. Using tongs, transfer the duck to a plate and set aside. Spoon out any fat from the dish into a jar to use later.
  5. Peel the carrots, onions, garlic and apples. Core the apples and cut into 6 wedges, finely slice the garlic, and chop the carrots and onions. Trim and chop the celery sticks. Pick the thyme leaves and discard the stalks.
  6. Tip the chopped veggies, apple and garlic into the casserole dish along with the thyme, and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until golden and starting to soften.
  7. Drain the soaked haricot beans and add to the dish, along with the cider, chicken stock, tomato purée and the browned duck.
  8. Bring to the boil, then transfer the dish to the oven, covering loosely with foil, and cook for 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes, or until the duck is tender.
  9. After 1 hour, check the duck, give it a stir and add a little seasoning plus some stock or water if it’s looking dry.
  10. Meanwhile, peel the garlic for the crumb topping, and pick the parsley leaves, discarding the stalks. Blitz the bread, garlic and parsley in a food processor until fine.
  11. When the duck is done, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the crumb mix, reserving a little to serve. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the reserved duck fat (or use olive oil).
  12. Return to the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until golden on top. Divide between plates and garnish with the reserved crumb topping.

(Source: By Jamie Magazine. www.jamieoliver.com)

Blades of Glory: Forging Damascus-Steel Knives

Foot-long orange flames lick from the doors of the forge. “That’s called the dragon’s breath,” Scott McGhee says. “That tells me I’ve burned just about all the oxygen out of the forge, and that’s what I want. Oxygen will rust the steel faster than I can put it together. Let’s go.”

I hoist a stack of 29 metal plates, each the width of a paint-stirring stick and half as long, welded to a 4-foot metal rod. Earlier, I’d arranged them to McGhee’s specifications: plates of 1095 high-carbon steel and 15n20 nickel steel stacked like a deck of cards in a carefully considered pattern.

The stacked steel slides into the forge like a pizza into an oven. McGhee nods his assent. He is lean and tall, with a scruff of gray hair. He wears a heavy canvas kilt and Danner hunting boots. The forge is running at 2,315 degrees, and it doesn’t take long for the edges of the metal to brighten and glow. In five minutes the entire stack of steel is a brilliant block of radiant orange.

“There it is,” McGhee says. “That’s how Damascus steel is born.”

Metal Heads

Few can resist the allure of Damascus steel. Made of two or more steel types welded together, Damascus seems alive, rippled like flowing water. McGhee, one of only 118 living American Bladesmith Society Master Smiths, is known for his intricate Damascus steels, some of which carry the shapes of snowflakes and dragons. But when Damascus forging techniques were first developed, in the Middle Ages, it wasn’t the art of Damascus that mattered as much as the science. Forging high-carbon and low-carbon steels together produced a tough material that could take a beating and still keep a wicked edge. “The pretty patterns were irrelevant,” McGhee says. “With Damascus steel, you could bash a few helmets and still use the same sword to cut a couple of Crusaders in two. It was the nuclear bomb of the time.”

Today’s modern Damascus steels are variants of the original, as the forging techniques from the medieval periods have been lost. But that doesn’t lessen the appeal of pattern-welded steel. It’s difficult to master and expensive to produce. When McGhee invited me to his Guinea Hog Forge in eastern North Carolina to help build a billet of Damascus steel, I almost jumped in the truck that afternoon. But McGhee warned me: It would take a full day to produce a glob of steel that looked pretty much like a glob of steel. At least on the outside.

I was fine with that. I knew what a Damascus steel knife looked like. But I didn’t know how it felt to melt metal, to pound steel, to stack and restack and forge hundreds of layers of metal to create the raw material of so much awe.

Hammer Time

In McGhee’s shop, once those initial 29 layers of steel soften in the forge, we pull them from the heat and pour on the pressure. McGhee shows me how to guide the billet into the jaws of a 50-ton hammer press, sweat draining down my forehead. The machine is operated with a foot pedal, and the harder I press, the harder and faster the hammer’s upper die smashes into the billet. I’m tentative at first, but once I get the hang of it, I stomp pretty hard. Each smash of the die mushes the steel as if it were a loaf of bread, sloughing off glowing slag and embers. Next I walk the billet over to a 250-ton hydraulic press, which works the same way, but this time flat plates crush the metal loaf, mashing the layers into one another.

The two machines move the steel in different ways, McGhee explains. The hydraulic press is pure, inexorable force. As it mashes the steel in one spot, it squirts the semimolten material through the matrix. The hammer press, though, imparts massive shock, like a straight-arm jab to the jaw. That’s how you get the radial line patterns, like a topographic map in steel.

Choreographing the two, McGhee says, “is the beautiful thing about making Damascus. Every billet is different. You’re never going to hit it with the hammer, or draw it through the press, the same way twice. And the steel remembers every crush and blow. I can control it, and I cannot control it. It’s a live performance, every time.”

Once it has cooled, we cut the billet into three pieces, weld them together, and repeat the process: Heat in the forge, hammer and press, cool, cut, and restack. The 29 layers of steel are now 174. Another restack, with more fire, more hammer and smash. After a last forging, the billet contains 522 layers in a pattern McGhee figures will earn the name “Shockwave.” It’s been six hours since we first walked into the shop.

We take the billet out of the forge and let it cool. It looks like a brick of molten gray ash. Like a raw diamond, it requires more work to pull back the covers of its beauty, and McGhee is a bit apolo­getic. “You might look at that and see a gray lump of steel,” he says. “But I see hot, sexy knives in there.”

I’m not so far behind. I know it will take McGhee another week to cut and grind, harden and temper, acid-etch, and sharpen the blades—not to mention hand-build the handles and helve each knife. This billet of Damascus steel is destined for his signature Piranha hunting blades or perhaps a few larger private-order fighting knives for Special Forces soldiers. I can’t confess to seeing those swords in the stone as does McGhee. But after a full day in the shop, I can feel their weight in my tired, grimy hands, and envision the steel we made, folded, melted, and beat, like the blades of the ancients, cutting through time.

 

(Source: BY T. EDWARD NICKENS. www.fieldandstream.com)

 

BBQS THE ARGENTINEAN WAY: ASADOS

After shooting all morning you will likely work up quite an appetite, so around noon we will adjourn to a nice shady area near the hunting field for a traditional Argentina barbecue which we call an ” asado”.

Many of our clients tell us that the asado is one of the most memorable dining experiences which they have ever had. C&C Oufitters chef Gino is likely the most amazing “campfire cook” that any of you ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The asado will consist of premium cuts of world-renowned Argentina beef together with chicken, chorizos (sausages), fresh salads, pasta dishes, and of course, desserts and fresh fruits. Of course, a variety of beverages are served along with your food, including examples of delicious and satisfying Argentina wines.

The asado is served under a canopy of shade trees when available or in an eating tent, on a table with a cloth tablecloth and china dishes and crystal glasses. Many of our hunters tell us that the noontime asado experience ranks right up there with the phenomenal hunting as an unforgettable memory of Argentina.

OTHER ARGENTINEAN TRADITIONAL FOOD

Upon arrival after a long day of hunting is time for a tasty drink or two before dinner. Your dinner will consist of the finest and freshest dishes, again made with the most choice ingredients, and served with any beverage from bottled mineral water from the Andes Mountains to more examples of the truly outstanding wines of Argentina. Some of the meals our cheff will prepare are:

The Locro:

it is nutritious and healthy. It is made with corn or wheat, which is depressed in the mortar and allowed to soak for about ten hours. Boil in enough salted water and add beef or pork, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, etc.. After about four hours is added a kind of fried you do with fat or oil, onion, chili.

The Empanadas:

They have a privileged position within the popular diet. Preparations are common to many regions, a must infestivals and events. Pastries with meat, onion, raisins, olives and chopped egg filling. Really tasty!. You can make fried or baked.

The Carbonada:

This exquisite preparation is one of the most common in Creole cuisine. Cut the meat into cubes and put it in a pot that has fat fried chili hot, stir and then add enough hot water, boil done by within an hour. During this procedure, add a chopped pumpkin, also chopped onion, tomato and vegetables like corn, sweet potato and potato.

 

 

Recipe: Sorghum Roast Duck with Pecan Relish

A lifelong outdoorsman, chef Matthew McClure grew up hunting and fishing in the Arkansas River Valley. At his Bentonville, Ark., restaurant, The Hive, he showcases the culinary identity of the High South through his refined, country cuisine, and highlights the local ingredients and purveyors of the region. As evidence of his Arkansas roots, he offers up this take on classic roasted duck. With a heavy dose of sorghum syrup and relish made from pecans, the recipe exudes sweet Southern soul. McClure, a James Beard best-chef semi-finalist, uses a dry brine to help the duck absorb more flavors from the poaching liquid and to stay moist during the high-heat roast. The brine does take a few days, however, so plan ahead.

Ingredients
1 whole duck, dressed and plucked
½ box kosher salt
1½ gallons water
1 cup honey
1 pint sorghum
2 bay leaves
1 tbs black peppercorns
2 whole dried guajillo peppers

Directions
1. Salt the duck and then hang overnight in a refrigerator. Rinse with water and re-hang in a refrigerator, preferably in a spot that has ample airflow, for 48 hours.

2. Mix the sorghum, honey, and spices with the water and bring to a boil.

3. Poach the duck breast side-down for about 7 minutes and then place duck on a sheet tray with a roasting rack. Go directly into a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the leg is easily pulled loose from the body.

Pecan Relish

Ingredients
1 cup toasted pecans (chopped)
¼ cup minced shallots
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

 

Directions
1. Mix the shallots with the lemon juice and let sit for an hour.

2. Mix the pecans, parsley, and olive oil. Fold in the shallots, and salt to taste.

 

(Source: BY DAVID DRAPER. www.fieldandstream.com)

A Case for Soft Gun Cases

Is a Soft Gun Case in Your Future?

When it comes to traveling with, and protecting, firearms, the options today are nearly endless.

There are thousands of soft, hard, and a combination of those available. Before you open your wallet, you’ll need to open the gun vault, the trunk of your car, and possibly your state’s regulation books. More and more states have differing laws on how a firearm can be transported. When you check state laws, look for key wording about secured, stored or locked.

Before Shopping

Before you shop you will also need to zero-in on the firearm you wish to protect and transport.

Will you need a case for a long slender shotgun, possibly a case to hold a rifle with a big scope installed, or a shorter case for an AR/MSR rifle? Some cases only hold a specific type of firearm. It’s always safe to measure the firearm for length and for height with any scope installed.

Once you gather the details, the shopping for a soft case can begin. Before you buy, however, especially when ordering online, check the company’s return policy and warranty. Some online retail sources will not take returns or make exchanges on gear related to firearms.

When shopping for a soft gun case in person, inspect how the handles are installed (wrap around or simply connected by a ring), and what type handles are offered. Once you include a firearm, and possibly ammunition, the weight of the case goes up and thin plastic handles are quick to cut into your hand — or fail and break.

Next, check shoulder-strap construction details, especially if you need to carry the gun case out to a duck blind or across the pier at a boat ramp. Also, do you need a case that floats, or one that is camouflaged so you can place it on the ground outside a duck blind and have it blend in and not spook wary game? You have many options.

“When possible, look for a case with a clear-coated PVC polyester shell that’s durable and waterproof, and designed for the worse conditions,” states Ryan Ward, Browning’s product manager of shooting accessories. “A case that closes on itself with a fold-over flap is better at maintaining an air pocket inside and possibly floating longer. Check also to determine if your hand will fit inside the carry handles while wearing bulky hunting gloves.”

While you inspect the quality of the gun case being considered, two things should bear attention. One is the type of inner lining that will be next to the firearm, and the second consideration is how accessible that liner is in case you need to dry it because the case took a dip in water or the firearm was encased while wet. Wetness near metal gun surfaces soon leads to rusting.

On a final note, look closely at zippers. YKK zippers tend to be the better ones. If a case seems to be really cheap, the manufacturer probably cut corners on construction. One soft case with a nylon exterior I purchased was promoted on sale. The first time I used the case the muzzle of the shotgun became exposed because the case unzipped itself on the muzzle end. The zipper would never stay together so the bargain became not a great buy and was tossed. I should have looked closer at the zipper before buying.

Here are some soft cases for hard consideration.

Browning Rugged Flex Rifle Case

This durable and protective rifle case incorporates a heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin spine and muzzle cap on the tip. Top features include a contoured zipper pocket, detachable shoulder strap and padded carry handle. The firearm inside sets against a soft, quilted lining. Flotation is provided by a closed cell-foam interior. The case measures 48 inches long, has Realtree Xtra camo added to a solid black exterior design, and is designed to hold a single long gun. The case weighs approximately 2 pounds and has a MSRP of $55.

Drake Side-Opening Floating Gun Case

This unique case does not have a zipper, but does have Velcro and brass snaps to secure the firearm inside — while permitting full opening for drying. This case is available in Realtree Max-5 camouflage, has a handle and shoulder strap to aid with carrying, and is enclosed with rugged HD2 (Heavy-Duty/Hydro Durance) material. Closed cell foam inside permits floating with a firearm enclosed. Suggested retail price is $40.

 

Boyt Harness Company’s Floating Rifle Case

This soft case is designed to float, will hold a scoped rifle, measures 46 inches long, and is cloaked in Realtree APG camouflage. Other features are a heavy-duty nylon shell, dense closed cell-foam liner inside and durable web handles. A storage pocket is located on the exterior. MSRP is $46.

 

Rig ‘Em Right Primer Floating Neoprene Gun Case

If you are serious about hunting waterfowl and protecting your shotgun, this case will need to be considered. This floating case features multi-layer construction with a water-shedding neoprene outer shell and integrated EVA armor at the stock and barrel. A dense layer of foam for flotation is covered with a quilted lining for added protection of your shotgun. Other features are a full-length rainproof zipper, metal hardware, large gusseted EVA pocket for storage and a padded adjustable shoulder strap to aid with carrying. To aid with concealment, the 53-inch long case is cloaked with Realtree Max 5 HD. MSRP: $89.99.

Plano Realtree Xtra Rifle Soft Case

Plano offers at least a half-dozen soft rifle cases cloaked in various Realtree patterns, including the Rifle Soft Case — 300 Series. This case offers a full-length zipper and durable wrap-around handles for added protection when on the go. The inside has high-density foam to pad the firearm and there’s a loop on the tip to aid with hanging the case during storage. A large zippered side pocket aids with storing and taking extra gear. The exterior layer has Realtree Xtra camouflage on the surfaces.

Banded Impact Gun Bag in Max-5 Camouflage:

Waterfowl hunters everywhere will want to set their sights (or level the bead) on the floating Impact Gun Case from Banded. Construction includes a heavy-duty 900-denier fabric exterior covering a layer of non-absorbing, closed-cell foam. The end result is reliable floatation along with durable protection. The inside liner cradling the firearm is made of soft 210-denier, PVC-coated polyester. This case includes a side storage pocket along with padded handle and shoulder strap. It’s designed for transporting firearms up to 54-inches long. The case is available for less than $30 via some online outlets.

Cabela’s Northern Flight Deluxe Double Floating Gun Case

This Cabela’s soft case is cloaked in weather-resistant polyester with Realtree MAX-5 camouflage to help it blend into most fall situations. The case floats thanks to closed cell-foam lining and will keep two firearms afloat. Other features are a padded adjustable shoulder strap, double-canvas-strap carry handles wrapping around the exterior of the case and joining, and full-length zipper to provide quick access or aid in closing. Also has an exterior pocket and long goose flag pocket. The case is 52 inches long and designed primarily for shotguns. Retail price is $40.

Avery Floating Gun Case

This Avery soft case has a water-resistant Duramax exterior shell with cinch-strap closure. The closed cell foam behind the 200-denier polyester lining ensures the case and enclosed firearm floats. The adjustable shoulder strap has a Friction Lok shoulder pad that stays where you place it, and helps keep it on your shoulder and not slipping and sliding. There are three choke tube holders in a side pocket. This case will fit shotguns up to 52 inches long, is cloaked in Realtree Max-5 and retails for approximately $35.

(Source: BY MICHAEL D. FAW. www.realtree.com)

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