Recipe: Warm and Fuzzy

Warm and Fuzzy
Bourbon and Barley Waterfowl Stew
by: Scott Leysath – The Sporting Chef

While I’m no stranger to a weekend glass or two of red wine, the occasional vodka drink or even a really cold beer after working up a sweat, I’m not a big fan of dark-colored liquors, at least not in a glass.  However, I often use them as flavoring ingredients in the kitchen.  Rum, pineapple juice, chopped green onions, sliced jalapenos, garlic and olive oil make for a sensational marinade for pheasant.  A splash or two of whiskey and a pinch of brown sugar adds a whole new dimension to bottled barbecue sauce.  Finish off a pair of pan-seared duck breasts with an ounce or two of bourbon, some diced onion and a dash of cream for a delicious dish that will impress even those people who “just don’t like duck.”
If liquor is not your cup of tea, keep in mind that the cooking process removes most, if not all of the alcohol and leaves behind the flavor or bourbon.  Like wine, when cooking with bourbon, don’t waste your money on good bourbon.  While I’m sure the TV chefs will tell you that you shouldn’t cook with bourbon that you wouldn’t drink, I say to drink the good stuff and cook with whatever’s on sale.
I have tried a taste or two of bourbon in the past and do remember that it does make me feel a little warm and fuzzy.  Although I’m not sure where the “fuzzy” part comes in, it does seem to pair well with “warm”.  When it comes to more descriptive words associated with bourbon, I did a little online research and it appears that, depending on the variety, it can be nutty, woody or sweet.  I’ll stick with warm and fuzzy.
One word of caution – be very careful when cooking with alcohol near an open flame or hot pan.  The visual effect of a flaming skillet can be enticing, but it can also set your face on fire.  Alcohol is very flammable and will ignite even when you add it to a hot skillet on an electric range with no flames in sight.  To be on the safe side, dilute the alcohol with another, non-flammable liquid and remove the pan from the heat source to add the mixture.  Then return the pan to the heat and keep your face as far away from it as possible.

Bourbon and Barley Waterfowl Stew

6 servings

3  cups skinless duck and/or goose breast fillets, cut into 1 – 2 inch pieces
1  cup all purpose flour
1  tablespoon each salt, pepper and garlic powder
1/2  cup olive oil
1 1/2  quarts beef brothBOURBONSTEW
1/2  cup bourbon
2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1  large onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2  cups baby-cut carrots
3  celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4  garlic cloves, minced
2  sprigs fresh rosemary
3  bay leaves
1  cup cooked barley
1  tablespoon cornstarch mixed with equal part cold water
1/4  cup fresh parsley, minced
1.  Combine flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Add duck/goose pieces and toss to coat meat evenly.  Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add meat, a few pieces at a time, until all pieces are evenly browned.  Remove meat from pot.
2.  Combine beef broth, bourbon and Worcestershire sauce.  Add about 1 cup of the liquid to the pot over medium-high heat and stir to loosen bits and deglaze pan.  Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.  Cook for 6 – 8 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add remaining broth mixture and reserved browned meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
3.  Remove rosemary and bay leaves.  Stir in cooked barley and cornstarch mixture.  Bring to a boil to thicken.  To serve, ladle into bowls and top with parsley.

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