Ducks are for quacking, not for cooking
August 7, 2012 6:37 AM   Subscribe

What can I use as a vegetarian substitute for duck pan juice so that I can make a tasty fruity sauce for my halloumi?

I'm going to be grilling the halloumi, and I want to serve it with a fruity, sweet, sour sauce. I've found this recipe, which is perfect as it's simple and I have all the ingredients, apart from the duck juice.

Can I substitute vegetable stock (probably made from bouillon powder)? Or something else? I'm not above roasting some veggies and deglazing the pan. But I'm not sure either of those will get close to the oomph of duck juice.

Or can you suggest another recipe as an alternative? I've got time to dedicate to this, so it can be something complicated... (You get bonus points if your sauce is a fruity, chili sauce)

I'm a no meat, no fish veggie.
posted by Helga-woo to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Use the oil from roasting the vegetables and mix with a good dose of melted butter.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:45 AM on August 7, 2012

I'd suggest a mixture of finely chopped portobello and porcini mushrooms (these well dried if they've been rehydrated) fried in extra-virgin rapeseed oil until brown and giving off a savoury aroma. Deglaze the pan with a little sherry vinegar. If that's a bit of a shopping stretch, just the portobellos (or even chestnut mushrooms) in sunflower oil will get you some of the way there, as long as you let them brown properly.
posted by howfar at 7:02 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Actually, thinking about it, are you sure that a flat flavourful mushroom like a portobello might not be a better duck analogue in this dish? I love halloumi, but it's not got the depth of flavour of duck. If you're after the stretchiness, why not fry the mushrooms until nearly done, then top with halloumi and finish under/over the grill?
posted by howfar at 7:09 AM on August 7, 2012

Vegetable stock ain't gonna have the umami "oomph" of duck juice". You basically want a concentrated source of "savory" without too much saltiness, which will be difficult to do with broth alone. Some good vegetarian sources of savory flavors are walnuts, miso paste, kelp, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, the aforementioned mushrooms and cheeses. You don't want to screw with the flavors of your sauce, though - they're assertive, but the wrong addition could make them taste REALLY funky. Me? I'd roast some veggies, drain off the fat, then deglaze the pan with a mixture of veggie broth, balsamic and red wine. It's not going to be the SAME as duck juice, but it'll provide a nice blast of savory flavor without messing up the other ingredients' roles.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:25 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Veggie broth with Bragg's liquid Aminos would probably do it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:29 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just to be clear - I'm not doing a straight switch substituting the halloumi for the duck. The halloumi is going to be wrapped in vine leaves and barbequed, I just wanted a sauce to go with it, and the one in this recipe seemed like a goer.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:53 AM on August 7, 2012

I add Bragg's liquid Aminos, or marmite, or vegetarian Worcestershire (or all of the above) to vegetarian versions of stuff usually made with beef stock or sausage/bacon fat.

But in this case, I could do what julthumbscrew suggests, but I'd add a nice knob of butter.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would use a good homemade vegetable stock, reduced. I can always taste the yeast in marmite/Bragg's/soy/boullion concoctions, so I only use those as a desperate measure. Veggie stock only takes about an hour (a little longer if you caramelize the vegetables first) , unlike meat stocks.

I would lighten up on the sweetness of the sauce, too. Halloumi is so delicate, and duck on the rich and gamey side.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:42 AM on August 7, 2012

Oh, oneirodynia's comment made me remember one more thing: if you're ever tempted to augment the savory qualities of vegetarian dishes with Liquid Smoke, DO NOT DO THIS. I have given into that temptation and been bitterly disappointed. While it seems like it SHOULD be Magical Best-Qualities-of-Meat-Without-Actually-Being-Meat Liquid, it is sadly not.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:01 AM on August 7, 2012

I have had excellent luck substituting stocks made from dried bolete (porcini) mushrooms for meaty pan drippings in gravy and pan sauces . The dried mushrooms are much more intense than fresh mushrooms -- savory and rich, with incredible depth. For this recipe, I'd probably soak/simmer them until they were soft, puree them with the soak-water into a smooth slurry, then add olive oil as appropriate to replace the small amount of duckfat that would be left even in separated pan drippings.
posted by ourobouros at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

One more thing: deglazing a pan of roasted vegetables is also a good move -- you can, in fact, deglaze it with the bolete mushroom stock I suggested above. The mushrooms will provide umami; the roasted vegetables will provide the caramelized flavors. Mmmm, Maillard reaction.
posted by ourobouros at 10:42 AM on August 7, 2012

Thank you all!

Just for the record: I roasted a massive pan of veggies - including some portabello mushrooms (the shop didn't have fresh ceps and I thought I had dried ones at home - I didn't) - and deglazed it with a big glug of red wine, a smaller glug of balsamic vinegar and some weak vegetable stock (about half a teaspoon of bouillon powder to a cup of water). I reduced that to about half, then added the juice of an orange and about half a bag of frozen berry mix (that was my first lie to you all, I didn't have raspberries, but I didn't want to complicate things too much...). I simmered it for a few minutes until the fruit was soft, then took it off the heat, liquidised it and sieved it to get rid of the bits.

I had a bad luck orange - really sour (exactly why I don't eat oranges, you put all that effort into peeling them only for them to kick you in the teeth), and the berry mix is quite sour as well, so I had to stir in a few spoons of sugar to sweaten it up.

It also got left in the fridge overnight which helped the flavours.

Then I served it with pieces of halloumi and goats cheese, wrapped in vine leaves and barbecued. Which was the second lie, this all started because I was looking for an alternative to halloumi kebabs for a veggie barbecue and I found a Guardian article that temptingly talked of goats cheese wrapped in vine leaves, but gave no recipe. I was a bit concerned the goats cheese would ooze out of the leaves, so the halloumi was the Yohan Blake to the goats cheese's Usain Bolt.

The goats cheese didn't ooze, the sauce was amazing, but it worked a lot better with the goats cheese than the halloumi. Which was the plan in the first place.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:37 PM on August 9, 2012

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