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And the Winner is…

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Hank Shaw

photo by Holly A. Heyser

Two weeks ago I announced a contest for a pair of chances to win free dinner for two to the Nov. 11 rematch of last year’s “Iron Chef Duck” cooking competition between Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange restaurant and myself.

The dinner, which will be a fixed-price, set menu, will be four courses and will cost somewhere around $55 per person. Grange will be donating 10 percent of the proceeds to the California Waterfowl Association, which will use the money to help buy, restore and maintain wetlands all over the state. Dinner service starts at 5:30 p.m. What’s on the menu? You’ll have to wait and see…

As for the competition, Chef Tuohy and I will be going head-to-head in your first three courses, and Pastry Chef Elaine Baker will prepare your dessert.  Who wins? You get to be the judge. We’re planning on having cards on each table for you to fill out which dish on each plate you liked best, then we tally up the scores and announce a winner.

To win the free dinner and hotel room, you had to either tell me (in 100 words or less) why I should pick you OR give me your best duck or goose recipe. The winner of the recipe category not only wins dinner for two, but also gets to spend that night at the Citizen Hotel for free; the Citizen is where Grange is located.

I got all kinds of great entries, both in the comments section and via email. As it happens, y’all have lots and lots of great duck recipes I’ve never made, and a few I’d never even heard of.

We ranged from Carolina Rig’s duck hash — major points for using the giblets — to a crazily delicious duck sushi from Peter at Cookblog to the heavenly gut bomb that is Beer & Nosh’s Duck Mac-n-Cheese.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

For the “I’m not a cook, but pick me” prize, we had entries that went from tempting — J.R. Young is apparently bringing some badass wine — to an appeal to end a “no buy” fast. But for me the clear winner was… Deanne Katz!

Deanne and her boyfriend were already planning to come, but they have friends who have just moved to Sacramento and are dirt poor; he’s in grad school, she’s in med school. Can’t help but empathize with that one. When I was in grad school I earned the nickname “grain man” because I could only afford to eat meat a couple times a week. So Deanne, bring your friends — dinner is on the house!

The recipe prize, which involves the hotel room, was far tougher.

For me it came down to three entries: Two are from Texas, one from Pennsylvania. So one of you will need to get on Orbitz or something and book a flight to Sacramento pronto.

Third place goes to Indirect Heat’s BBQ Dude, with his tea-smoked duck. Reading through the dish, it looks well-executed, classic and above all, delicious.  I would happily eat it, and am planning on adapting it to wild ducks this winter.

Second place goes to Kate from Living the Frugal Life. Kate’s dish? Well, I’ll let her describe it:

…you might try a roasted pecan-duck/goose mousseline forcemeat (marjoram, nutmeg), pipe it into boned out legs… wrap the stuffed legs in caul fat… to hold it all in, and then sear them off in a pan. For the sauce you could go in the direction of richness with a well seasoned veloute, or something more fruity like applejack/white wine reduction.

Yeah baby, yeah! How could this NOT win?

Well, because Paul C from Xesla Research Organisation blew me away with two dishes: Cold-smoked duck confit, and his own version of a boned-out duck leg:

…bone out a duck leg and stuff it with chorizo and then cook it sous vide to 55 C and quickly sear it to crisp up the skin. Rolled and sous vide it ends up like much like a sausage with the skin acting as a casing and a contrasting layer of duck meat surrounding spicy ground pork.

So Paul, book your flight from Texas to Sacramento! You’re the winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted entries. For those of you close enough to drive to Sacto, I hope to see you there — and I can’t wait to cook for you all!

But if you plan to come, make your reservation soon: As of this morning, the bookings were already half-full, and Grange has not even publicized the duck dinner yet. It will sell out. Guaranteed.

Make your reservations for the Duck Duel Deux here.

12 responses to “And the Winner is…”

  1. Bbq Dude

    Wow, thanks. I appreciate the honor.

  2. kate@livingthefrugallife

    Wow again. I’m surprised and honored as well. And though the teensiest bit disappointed to come so close and not win, I’m also relieved not to have to make a decision about flying all the way out there – though I have no doubts the meal would be astounding. (I just hate flying.) I hope the winner enjoys the meal, and I wish you good luck in the competition, Hank.

  3. Joshua

    I didn’t know you’d give consideration for poverty! Crap!

  4. Paul C

    Wow … I never win stuff! Now I have to work out flights and logistics, quick to the internets!

    what are the chances of getting a couple of extra nights stay on the cheap at the hotel so I can stay a few more days? ( I assume there’s stuff worth seeing in Sacramento? ) … thinking right now I should fly in Thursday morning and go home Saturday or Sunday.

  5. Peter

    I’m pretty sure ACORN facilitated widespread voter fraud in this election, so I’m putting on my best tinfoil hat and picketing outside the U.N. until I get satisfaction.

    Do an East coast version, willya?

  6. Carol

    I’m glad the grad/med school couple got chosen! Been there myself–I remember how wonderful nights on the town were back then; all the better if someone else picked up the tab…

  7. Laura P

    Looking forward! I’ll be there with your other former coworker Laura-Lynne and our respective spouses (spice?)
    Oh, the Militant Grammarian reminds you, the correct phrase is “between Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange restaurant and ME.”
    ;)

  8. Jessa

    Just made reservations and very much looking forward to it!

  9. Carolina Rig

    Congrats to the winners! Best part about all this is that I’ve got some new things to try out during duck season. Thanks guys.

    Brian

  10. Bumbling Bushman

    I can vouch for Carolina Rig’s duck hash. I would have stolen it and entered it as my own, but he owns shotguns. Seriously folks, try his recipe with your duck livers and hearts this fall.

  11. Warm Salt Cod, Little Gem, and Tomato | Nose To Tail At Home

    [...] competition between Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange restaurant and the awesome Hank Shaw.  Paul won Hank’s contest with a down-right mouth-watering entry of smoked duck confit and was kind enough to ask me along. [...]

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