Side Dish for Roast Duck
December 16, 2003 1:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm cooking roast duck for my family on Christmas (actually Dysfunctional Family Christmas on the 21st.) I like to serve a wild rice/kashi mixture on the side. However, every time I make the dish it lacks flavor. It has a nice bite to it, what with the wild rice and other grains, but it's missing something. I usually toss some garlic cloves in, I've used broth instead of water, etc. Still, it comes out bland. How can I zip it up?

How does Uncle Ben get that flavor into his Long Grain and Wild Rice mixture? MSG and other fun stuff, I'm sure, but there must be a slightly healthier combination of herbs and spices I can use.

I suppose I could add bacon drippings. They make everything taste good.
posted by bondcliff to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
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Here's my favorite Uncle Ben's killer. I usually use it for stuffing, but it works just fine as a side dish. It gets raves. I've served it for friends who like spicy food, and company functions where bland is the main theme. it's subtle yet intriguing. Both the sherry and the pesto give it that, "what that interesting flavor?" quality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2003

Fry some chopped onion until golden brown in the bottom of the pan you're going to cook the rice in, deglaze the pan with white wine, add your broth and cook the rice. A lot of wild rice dishes I've had include diced, cooked chicken. For a really rich, artery-hardening treat, add diced, cooked chicken liver (and/ or the duck liver).
posted by gimonca at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2003

use it to stuff the duck.

rice stuffing in duck/geese is the traditional Chinese way.
posted by girlhacker at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2003

Butter. Lots and lots of butter.
posted by contessa at 3:15 PM on December 16, 2003

Lightly garnish the duck with ginger.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:33 PM on December 16, 2003

Some mushrooms might be nice. Get a couple of ounces of dried mushrooms, maybe a combination of various kinds. Simmer them in a few cups of water for 15 minutes. Take out the mushrooms and keep the water, which is now your mushroom stock. Rinse the mushrooms well and chop them. Strain the stock (which will have some sediment in it) through a coffee filter. Cook the rice in the stock (plus however much water or vegetable/chicken/beef stock you need to make the correct amount), and add the chopped mushrooms to the dish.

gimonca's suggestion also sounds good, but maybe try shallots instead of onions for a more interesting flavor.

And you can't go wrong with sherry. (Well, not by cooking with it. If there's a complimentary decanter of it in your hotel room, you can go very wrong.)
posted by staggernation at 4:03 PM on December 16, 2003

I will second the dried mushrooms. I made a wild rice pilaf for Thanksgiving and used chicken stock but also one cup of liquid from steeping dried porcinis for 15 minutes, and then also added the chopped reconstituted mushrooms later on. It helped immensely.
posted by briank at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2003

I third the mushrooms. If you want to use a really cheap trick to give it some depth and savoury hoomph, then try a splash of soy sauce. It works a treat in giving body without an obtrusive / distinctive flavour.
posted by bifter at 5:56 AM on December 17, 2003

The flavor you're missing when compared to Uncle Ben's just might be the tons of sodium found in the packaged goods.

Try putting cheese in it - parmesan gives it a pretty good zing and adds a bit to the texture.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2003

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